"Un Ti Morceau"

"A Little Something," mini-lessons and reflections by our pastor, Father Paul Counce


Published May 17, 2015 by Fr. Paul Counce

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a morceau. Remember, we have been considering the ministry of governance in the Church, a role which is exercised by bishops and the priests who are their coworkers. If you do remember the last one, you’ll recall that I described the offices of vicar general and moderator of the curia in our diocese, which have been undertaken in recent weeks by Father Tom Ranzino.

At the same time the bishop also appointed another priest, Father Paul Yi, who remains the pastor of Ascension of Our Lord and of St. Francis of Assisi Parishes in Donaldsonville, to another diocesan office. Father Yi has been named chancellor of the diocese, and again, as you might expect, this job too is governed by the Church’s internal laws, known as canon law (can. 482, §1).

The chancellor’s principal job in law is that of diocesan records-manager. He (or she, since the chancellor need not be a cleric) is to see to it that all of the files and documents generated by the bishop and other officials and departments of the Diocese “are gathered, arranged and safeguarded in the archives.” The chancellor functions as a “notary ecclesiastic,” verifying by signature for other authorities in the Church that the documents (and copies thereof) contained in the diocesan files are authentic (can. 483, §1). He has custody of the diocesan seal, and serves as the supervisor of the other archivists; he is ordinarily responsible for proper tracking of statistics and other records, and making proper report of these to Rome and sometimes to others as Church law demands.

This is a massive job, although fortunately the Chancery of the diocese has in place for many years now efficient and effective ways to organize, track and store the papers and information needed both for current operations and one day for historical research. Much of the chancellor’s work is repetitive, for it has to be done every year, or whenever certain events recur.

Beyond this, the chancellor of a diocese customarily serves as a special assistant to the bishop, often taking charge of various projects on his behalf. But that’s a personal thing between bishop and chancellor: there’s no way to predict exactly what that kind of thing entails!

Still, in this role too the ministry of governance in the Church is carried out in a practical way, giving good order and structure to the operations of our community of faith. As I’ve said before, we rely on both the personalities and the job-parameters of those who do the work to do so effectively!

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