• What is a vicar general?

    A bishop is the visible face of any diocese, appointed by the pope to lead the clergy and the faithful. Behind the scenes, a vicar general handles many of the bishop’s administrative tasks. “The more the bishop can rely on the vicar general for governance, the more time and energy he has free to be out and about among the people in the diocese,” said Father Thomas P. Ferguson, vicar general and pastor of Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria.

     cr ord fergusonFather Thomas P. Ferguson, vicar general and pastor of Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria, looks on during the priestly ordination in 2015. File photo.

    Typically, every diocese has only one vicar general. According to canon law, the bishop is able to appoint a vicar general and remove him whenever he chooses. The vicar general must be at least 30 years old, an expert in canon law and theology, unrelated to the bishop and of good character. A vicar general reports directly to the bishop. He is usually the moderator of the curia, also known as the diocesan offices.

    Father Ferguson first became vicar general in the fall of 2015 under Bishop Emeritus Paul S. Loverde. He sees his role as a mediator between the bishop and the faithful, the clergy and the diocesan offices.

    “The great thing about being vicar general is you really have the opportunity to be involved in all the different dimensions of the life of the chancery and, as a result, in all the different dimensions of the life of the parish,” he said. “I advance (the bishop’s) priorities and values in the leadership of the diocese.”

    Father Ferguson balances his administrative work in the chancery and his position as pastor with a lot of prayer, he said. Being part of a parish community enriches his role as vicar general.

    I feel like I’m the coach of two all-star teams — my parish and the diocese, he said. “I really feel blessed to be a leader among so many others who have placed their talents at the service of God and His church in such generous and faith-filled ways.”

     

    © Arlington Catholic Herald 2017

    @Zoey Maraist