Bishop Loverde makes key appointments

The departure of Father Mark S. Mealey from the Arlington Diocese in early October to begin a special project for the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales left a void across various leadership positions.

Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde filled that void last week when he announced a series of key clergy appointments that included: Father Thomas P. Ferguson as vicar general and moderator of the curia; Father Robert J. Rippy as judicial vicar; Father Paul D. Scalia as episcopal vicar for clergy and director of the diaconate formation program; and Father Robert C. Cilinski as episcopal vicar for charitable works.

What exactly do all of these positions do?

According to the Code of Canon Law, each diocesan bishop must appoint a vicar general "to assist him in the governance of the whole diocese." Thus, the vicar general is the highest official in a diocese after the bishop.

The bishop also can appoint a moderator of the curia to assist him in the day-to-day administration of the chancery. The moderator of the curia "must be a priest and who, under the authority of the bishop, is to coordinate those things which pertain to the treatment of administrative affairs and to take care that the other members of the curia properly fulfill the office entrusted to them."

Unless local circumstances suggest otherwise, the vicar general usually is appointed moderator of the curia. Thus, Father Ferguson now holds both of those titles, as did Father Mealey before him.

The bishop also can appoint one or more episcopal vicars, namely, those priests who are responsible for a specific part of the diocese or certain groups.

As episcopal vicar for charitable works, Father Cilinski will oversee Diocesan Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, while still serving as pastor at Church of the Nativity in Burke.

Father Scalia's title will change from the bishop's delegate for clergy to episcopal vicar for clergy. In addition, he will add the title of director of the diaconate formation program, a role that Father Ferguson had held since 2008. Bishop Loverde reinstituted the diaconate formation program in 2005 and it has been extremely successful. More than two dozen men have been ordained since 2011.

A vicar general and an episcopal vicar report to the bishop concerning the more important affairs, "and they are never to act contrary to the intention and mind of the diocesan bishop," according to the Code. The power of a vicar general and an episcopal vicar ceases when the bishop resigns or is removed from office.

The Code of Canon Law requires each diocesan bishop to appoint a judicial vicar, or officialis, "with ordinary power to judge, distinct from the vicar general unless the small size of the diocese or the small number of cases suggests otherwise."

Assistants to the judicial vicar are called adjutant judicial vicars, or vice-officiales. Both the judicial vicar and adjutant judicial vicars must be priests "of unimpaired reputation, doctors or at least licensed in canon law, and not less than 30 years of age.

"When the see is vacant, they do not cease from their function and cannot be removed by the diocesan administrator; when the new bishop arrives, however, they need confirmation."

Father Rippy will assume his role as judicial vicar, while continuing to serve as rector of the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington.

Each of the four priests brings a variety of skills and experiences to their new positions.

Father Ferguson, who will remain pastor of Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria, was ordained to the priesthood in 1994. He completed his studies in canon law at St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada, in 1998, at which time he was appointed to the tribunal.

He served as administrator of St. Bernadette Church in Springfield from 2002 to 2006 when he was appointed pastor of St. Thomas à Becket Church in Reston. He was appointed a tribunal judge in 2004. In 2008, he was appointed episcopal vicar for faith formation and director of the diaconal formation program. He has been at Good Shepherd since 2011.

Father Cilinski was ordained in 1979 and served as Catholic chaplain at George Mason University in Fairfax for 14 years before being named parochial administrator of All Saints Church in Manassas, the largest parish in the diocese. He was named pastor of Nativity in 2014.

Father Rippy was ordained in 1984. He studied canon law at the Gregorian College in Rome, receiving his licentiate in canon law in June 1988. He was immediately assigned to the tribunal, with residence at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Arlington. He served as pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes from 1997 to 2005, at which time he was named cathedral rector.

No stranger to the chancery, Father Rippy earlier served as diocesan chancellor, moderator of the curia and vicar for permanent deacons.

Father Scalia studied at the North American College in Rome before being ordained a priest in 1996. He was named parochial administrator of St. John the Beloved Church in McLean in 2008 and served as pastor there from 2009 to 2012.

He assumed full-time duties as the bishop's delegate for clergy in 2012, while residing at St. Rose of Lima Priests Retirement Villa in Annandale.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015