With this letter I want to share with you the news that a couple weeks ago I was appointed “dean” of the Maximilian Kolbe Deanery. [Don’t worry! We did not spend a bunch of parish money on a campaign to bring this election about!] Thirteen other priests in the diocese were also named to their respective deaneries. Because a dean is technically a “vicar” (representative) of the bishop, whenever a bishop is moved, all those serving as deans under him officially lose that position and title. Then as soon as a new bishop comes in, he has to name new deans.
A dean in the Church’s Code of Canon Law is technically called a “vicar forane”. “Vicar” is simply a word that means “representative”. “Forane” comes from the Latin “foras”, meaning “outside”. In other words, a dean is a representative or helper for the bishop outside of the immediate geographical area where the bishop resides. The diocese is divided into “deaneries”, and each deanery has a dean serving it. Below I have taken the individual paragraphs of Canon Law pertaining to the “vicar forane”, and I have simplified them greatly to make them easier to read, so that you can get an idea of what is expected of a dean/vicar forane.
Can. 553 The dean is a priest placed over a vicariate forane (i.e., a deanery). The bishop appoints the dean, after listening to the other priests from that deanery.
Can. 554 The bishop must judge the priest suitable after considering circumstances of place and time. The appointment is for a specific amount of time (in Toledo for three years). For good reason, according to his prudent judgment, the bishop is free to remove a dean at any time.
Can. 555 The duties and rights of the dean are:
to promote and coordinate common pastoral activity in the deanery [In Toledo, This is generally done by means of monthly deanery meetings attended by the priests, deacons and lay leaders of each parish in the deanery.]
to see to it that priests in the deanery lead a life in keeping with their state of life and perform their duties diligently
to see to it that religious functions are celebrated according to the prescripts of the sacred liturgy, that the beauty and elegance of churches and sacred furnishings are maintained carefully, especially in the eucharistic celebration and custody of the Most Blessed Sacrament, that the parochial registers are inscribed correctly and protected appropriately, that ecclesiastical goods (i.e., all the property and big-ticket items) are administered carefully, and finally that the rectory is cared for with proper diligence
to see to it that, according to diocesan rules and at the times stated, the clerics attend lectures, theological meetings, or conferences according to required norms
to take care that spiritual supports are available to the presbyters of his district, and likewise to be concerned especially for those who find themselves in more difficult circumstances or are beset by problems
to take care that the pastors of the deanery whom he knows to be gravely ill do not lack spiritual and material aids and that the funeral rites of those who have died are celebrated worthily. He is also to make provision so that, on the occasion of illness or death, the registers, documents, sacred furnishings, and other things which belong to the Church are not lost or removed
to visit the parishes of his district according to the determination made by the diocesan bishop [In Toledo, the dean is required to visit each parish in the deanery at least once per year, checking the sacramental records of the parish, the financial record-keeping, looking at pastoral council and finance council minutes, and then filling out a report for the Bishop, based on what was observed.]
So there is a very quick description of the responsibilities of the dean. Please pray that I fulfill the role in a worthy manner, serving both the bishop and the local deanery adequately. Thanks in advance for those prayers!
On another note, Perhaps you saw on our Facebook page this week that with our subscription to the YDisciple high school youth program online, we also gained many other programs to which everyone of our parishioners has access. The whole package of Catholic formation online can be found at the website “www.Formed.com”. There are individual lectures on aspects of the Faith, Bible studies, a program for consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary (which I am considering for Advent of 2016), and much more. Every parishioner really has access to years worth of ongoing adult faith formation. Imagine if every married couple for the seasons of Advent and Lent decided to take on a particular lecture series or study! Access could not be easier, choosing the most convenient time in your very own home. Or imagine small groups of adults doing the same.
On still another note, Fr. Collins from Cross Catholic Outreach was very appreciative of his time in our parish a few weekends ago. He really complimented the way our parish sings during the Mass. I second his compliment, and I confess that I am regularly inspired by the way our parishioners are living the Faith on a daily basis!
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,