Dear Friends in Christ:
Quí Ông Bà và Anh Chị Em thân mến trong Chúa Kitô:
Estimados Amigos y Amigas en Cristo:
When I became your Pastor / Rector on July 1, 2008, previously I had been serving as the full time Judicial Vicar (director) for the Tribunal Office for the Archdiocese. The Tribunal primarily serves people who desire to secure a declaration of nullity (more commonly known as an annulment) of their failed marital union. But it also deals with many important other legal issues per church law (canon law). I had been appointed the Judicial Vicar on July 1, 1997 and had been teaching canon law at St. Mary Seminary since 2001. Once I became your Pastor, I still continued to serve as Judicial Vicar and professor of canon law at the Seminary.
How did I do all 3 jobs? I am not sure. A lay female canon lawyer was put in charge at the Tribunal to run the ordinary business each day. That was a big help. But the reality is that my full attention could not be given to all 3 roles as it deserved. More recently the parish needs have become even more demanding, and I was spending less and less time in the Tribunal.
Why did I continue to serve as Judicial Vicar once I became your pastor? There was no priest who had the canon law degree (a 3 year graduate degree in addition to our normal graduate theological degree. Being a priest is a requirement for this role). And no priest was available to assume this role. Remember there is a priest shortage, and not every priest has the talents for canon law.
But recently, a priest secured the necessary degree and has been working in the Tribunal. As a result, Cardinal DiNardo accepted my resignation as the Judicial Vicar, after serving 19½ years in that role and appointed Fr. Luke Millette as the new Judicial Vicar as of January 1. I have been a priest for 29½ years and served 28 years in canon law ministry. Though released as Judicial Vicar, the Cardinal has asked me to offer my continual service as needed.
Concerning teaching, I had been teaching in the Spring Semester two canon law courses (a 3 hour semester credit course in marriage, and a 2 hour semester credit course in the other sacraments, plus funerals.) This semester I will be teaching only the marriage course, beginning this week. The other course will be taught by the new Judicial Vicar.
So what is the net result of these changes? The Tribunal will have a Judicial Vicar who can offer his full attention to this role, one that I could not. Hopefully, there will be a little less stress for me since I no longer have the official responsibilities of Judicial Vicar and one less course to teach. Hopefully, I can be a little more focused on my role as pastor.
There is another consequence of this change. In the past, my salary was borne by both the parish and Tribunal. As of Jan. 1, my salary is borne completely by the parish. As hopefully you have noticed in our stewardship reporting on p. 11, unfortunately we have been running a deficit between actual and budgeted collections. So now, our budgeted expenses will be even higher. We have been very concerned about our deficit. As a result, we have eliminated a part time receptionist position, with the hope of saving some money.
But the greater issue is if all of our parishioners are contributing as well as we should be. Many parishioners are, and thank you for your generosity. But we have some 680 registered households for which we have no documented contributions. Some may be donating by cash, but again we cannot verify if they are or not. If these 680 registered households would contribute at least $10 a week, we would have more than additional $350,000 in annual contributions. And how many people do we have attending who are not registered and are not contributing? Just imagine how we could provide additional ministries and services to bring the Good News to more people if the people who are not contributing would start!
Every registered household will be receiving a letter from me very soon, addressing stewardship: time, talent and treasure. If you do not receive such a letter and attend regularly, then we have to get you registered. That will be addressed in the near future. More on stewardship will be coming soon.