Monday, January 7, 2008

Today's Vocabulary Lesson: Parochial Vicar

Want to get to know something better? Learn the words.
Father Daren has a very helpful post entitled: A Parochial What?
I love how he explains the priesthood -- it is neither a job nor a career, but is rather a way of life.

Some priests happens to be pastors, others parochial vicars, others vicars general, others secretaries to Bishops, others are doctors or professors, etc., yet they are all priests. Every priest celebrates the sacraments, but not every priest is involved in the day-to-day life of a parish.
This is how he defines (in a very interesting post) parochial vicar -

  • parochial: an adjective meaning of or pertaining to a parish or parishes.
  • vicar: a person who acts in the place of another,” a “substitute,” or “a person who is
  • parochial vicar:
    The title of parochial vicar is relatively new, being introduced in the Code of Canon Law first promulgated in 1917 and again in 1983. Despite the new term, many priests are appointed as “associate pastors” or “assistant pastors.” The difficulty with the latter two titles is that there can only be one pastor of a parish. Any priests who assist the pastor are simply that: assistants. They do not share his authority, as the title of “pastor” suggests. Besides, parochial vicar sounds far cooler.
Father Daren goes on to explain the role of parochial vicar in some detail:
"A parochial vicar, then, is a priest who is assigned to assist a pastor of a parish. The parochial ministers and teaches in the name of the pastor and together with the pastor (canon 548 - §1).
A parochial vicar is, in a certain sense, “on loan” from the Bishop and can be called to perform another duty at any time; he does not enjoy the right of stability as a pastor does (canon 552).

A parochial vicar holds no jurisdictional authority within the parish in which he serves. He validly celebrates the Eucharist and hears confessions by virtue of his office as priest, but he needs the permission of the pastor to baptize infants and adults and to witness marriages (in many Dioceses this faculty is granted by the Bishop).

The Bishop may appoint a parochial vicar to assist in the totality of ministry to a parish (or parishes) or to a specific ministry within a parish or parishes (for example, prison ministry) (canon 548-§2).

The rights and responsibilities of a parochial vicar are not clearly defined by the Code of Canon Law but are rather left to the decree of appointment from the Bishop or to the “mandate of the pastor” (canon 548-§1).

Even so, by virtue of his office, a parochial vicar should assist the pastor in all areas of ministry within the parish (canon 548 -§2).
The only exception here is the application of the Mass pro populo, for the people of the parish, which is always the responsibility of the pastor.

In the absence of the pastor, a parochial vicar may not make changes to the parish – unless authorized by the pastor. If a parochial administer is not appointed by the Bishop is the absence of the pastor, the parochial vicar sees to day-to-day management of the parish, but again the parochial vicar need not apply Mass for the people (canon 549). This would really only apply in extended absences of a pastor, such as a sabbatical.

A parochial vicar should live within the rectory of the parish to which he is assigned, unless other arrangements are made (canon 550-§1).

Perhaps best of all, a parochial is entitled to the same vacation time as a pastor: four weeks per year, including two Sundays (canon 550-§3)."

In the end, as Father Daren says, a parochial vicar has all of the fun of being a priest, but without any of the responsibility. "A parochial vicar is not responsible for finances, insurance, building maintenance, faculty and staff, budgets, etc. (all of the things they don’t teach you in the seminary). A parochial vicar enjoys the happiness and satisfaction of the life of a priest without the headaches of a pastor."

H/T Servant & Steward

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