I’ve been highlighting the work of our Diocesan Tribunal, the “judicial branch” of our local Church, in this series of ti morceaux. I’ve mentioned various persons and the roles they fulfill: our judges, our defenders of the bond and promoter of justice, and our case sponsors.
The final group of Tribunal ministers to point out are actually the employees of our office. These of course are crucial to the work of the Tribunal, and yet due to the confidential (and, okay, I admit it, a bit byzantine!) nature of their work, many people don’t appreciate them and their efforts very much. But let me tell you, I certainly do!
Two ladies currently work in our Tribunal office as assessors. An assessor is identified in canon law as one who assists the judge “as a consultor” by the training, experience and expertise they possess. In a sense, the assessors help out in the Tribunal in many of the same ways that paralegals, clerks and secretaries aid secular judges and attorneys in accomplishing their tasks. In any case, Mrs. Mary Ann Atkinson and Mrs. Brenda Keller are valued assistants who do much of the day-to-day work of the Tribunal, and I’m very grateful to them.
Another member of the Tribunal staff, Mrs. Eileen Bourgeois, serves us as ecclesiastical notary, receptionist and most importantly as office manager. It is she who is principally responsible for keeping cases “on track” by preparing mailings and double-checking their progress, and for maintaining the necessary computer and physical files. Don’t think this is a minor job: it’s crucially important to make sure we keep track of everything in each case. It’s also vital to follow the proper process, taking each evaluative step in order and making sure that all persons are properly notified – and then reminded! – of what needs to happen next. If this doesn’t happen the very validity of our decisions could be compromised. Many, many thanks, therefore, go out to her as well.