What Is a Parochial Vicar?

As you read this year’s list of clergy appointments, you will notice Bishop Loverde has chosen to use the word "Parochial Vicar" instead of the term "Associate Pastor" that we have been using over the past several years. Why the change and what does it mean?

The reason for the change is that the Code of Canon Law in canon 545 uses the term "Parochial Vicar" and not "Associate Pastor." Hence, using the term "Parochial Vicar" brings us more in line with the terminology of the Code of Canon Law. It should be noted that the term "Parochial Vicar" is interchangeable with the terms "Associate Pastor" and "Assistant Pastor" that were used before the promulgation of the new code in 1983.

What does it mean to be a "Parochial Vicar"? In short, a "Parochial Vicar" is a priest who is assigned by the competent authority to assist the pastor in the pastoral ministry of a parish. Together as co-workers, the pastor and parochial vicar(s) carry out the functions of teaching, sanctifying and leading the people entrusted to their care. The parochial vicar is subject to the authority of the pastor. No matter what office a priest holds in the Church, the ultimate goal of all pastoral ministry is the salvation of souls. Please pray for all of the priests who have received new assignments that they may carry out their ministry after the likeness of the Great High Priest, Jesus Christ.

Copyright 1999 Arlington Catholic Herald, Inc. All rights reserved.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 1999

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