b Fr. Whitestone Is Arlington's Third Judicial Vicar -b

The appointment of 15 new pastors and one new administrator in early June by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde overshadowed another important milestone in diocesan history. Father David A. Whitestone is only the third Judicial Vicar in the diocese?s 30-year history. He succeeds Oblate Father Mark S. Mealey, who served in that position from 1990 to 2004. The late Msgr. Justin D. McClunn served as Judicial Vicar from the time the diocese was established on Aug. 13, 1974, until his death on June 15, 1990. Father Mealey can now devote full attention to his expanding duties as Episcopal Vicar for Pastoral Services and Moderator of the Curia. He is in residence at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Vienna. "I am honored to have served the Diocese of Arlington as Judicial Vicar since 1990 under the pastoral leaderships of Bishop John R. Keating and Bishop Paul S. Loverde," said Father Mealey. "Father David Whitestone has served the Tribunal in many roles since he received his canonical degree from the Gregorian University in Rome. As Judicial Vicar, Father Whitestone will oversee the ministry of justice with dedication and competence." Father Whitestone turned 42 on Aug. 5. He attended St. Mary Elementary School and Bishop Ireton High School, both in Alexandria. He was ordained by the late Arlington Bishop John R. Keating on May 20, 1989, after attending St. Charles Borromeo College and Seminary in Overbrook. He studied canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome from 1991-93. Since his ordination, Father Whitestone has been parochial vicar at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, St. Mary Parish in Alexandria, St. Louis Parish in Alexandria and St. Philip Parish in Falls Church. He was first assigned to the Tribunal in 1993 as advocate and defender of the bond and was appointed judge in 1998. He was appointed to full-time duty in the Tribunal, with residence at St. Mary of Sorrows Parish in Fairfax Station, in June 2000. He was appointed Adjutant Judicial Vicar with a change in residence to St. Charles Borromeo Church in Arlington three years later. Every diocese is required by Canon Law to have a Judicial Vicar and Bishop Loverde has the authority to appoint certain priests to assist him, according to Father Whitestone. "I act in the name of the bishop in matters of canon law and judicial matters," he said. Although the bulk of Tribunal work involves marriage cases, Father Whitestone can also be involved in other cases involving the rights and obligations of the faithful. Fathers Robert C. Brooks, Paul F. de Ladurantaye and Thomas P. Ferguson serve as Tribunal judges. Arlington also has a lay woman, Tara McIntosh, serving as a judge while earning her doctorate in canon law at Catholic University. Defenders of the Bond include Fathers James G. Mercer and Matthew H. Zuberbueler and Permanent Deacons William J. Donovan and Charles A. Coutu. As Judicial Vicar Father Whitestone presides over all Tribunal personnel, reviews annulment cases, decides about acceptance of cases and assigns specific duties. Newly ordained priests assist the Tribunal as notaries for the first five years of their priesthood. "It is helpful for them to see the process firsthand," Father Whitestone said. "It assists them in acting as advocates and even in their work in marriage preparation." Father Whitestone said he hopes to emulate Father Mealey?s example as Judicial Vicar, which involved applying Church law in a pastoral way. "The supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls," Father Whitestone said. "Father Mealey wanted to see the exercise of justice oriented to the good of the person. He has a keen legal mind combined with pastoral sense. "It?s a tremendous honor following him," he added, "but also an awesome responsibility considering the stature of my predecessors. It?s humbling." Father Whitestone?s path to the office of Judicial Vicar was not always so clearly defined. He recalled receiving a phone call as a young priest from former Arlington Bishop John R. Keating. "You?re going to go to Rome and study (canon law)," the bishop told him. "The beauty of the priesthood is you never know how you?ll be called to serve," Father Whitestone said. The first step in the annulment process, Father Whitestone said, is to contact your local parish priest. Additional questions can be directed in writing to the Tribunal. The staff is small and is not able to respond to phone calls or comment on annulment cases, he said. Tribunal work often involves the dark side of failed marriages. Father Whitestone said it is important to focus on the purpose of the process in order to keep a positive outlook. "If I help someone find the truth," he said, "there is reward in that. To be part of the healing process is very rewarding. We see the difficulties, but it?s rewarding at the end."

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2004