“The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.”
A number of people have mentioned my appointment as presbyteral moderator of Christ the King and Christ the Healer Parishes: some with congratulations and many with questions. Those parishes had been served by a very fine priest, Fr. Larry Gelthaus, who went to his eternal reward at the untimely age of 60 last month. God rest his soul!
At its most basic level, authority and responsibility in a parish can be thought of in two broad functional areas: administrative and sacramental. Administrative functions can be delegated to anyone, while sacramental care must be delegated to the appropriate ministers. In typical circumstances, a pastor is appointed by the Archbishop and given authority for the administrative and sacramental functions of a parish. He may delegate responsibilities, but the pastor has final authority and responsibility for the spiritual and temporal goods of the parish and is answerable to the Archbishop.
In non-typical circumstances, a variety of arrangements can be utilized to provide for the administrative and sacramental care of the parishes. For Christ the King and Christ the Healer Parishes, the Archbishop expects to consult with the people of the parishes and appoint a new pastor in June. In the mean time, a number of priests have volunteered to assist with the sacramental care for the parishes. The Archbishop has also appointed Deacon John Froehlich as the administrator pro tempore, or the temporary administrator, for the two parishes to handle administrative responsibilities.
According to canon law, in almost all circumstances a priest, as pastor, must have final responsibility and authority for the spiritual and temporal goods of the parish, even if other responsibilities have been delegated for such. That is the case with these two parishes, even with volunteer priests and the administrator pro tempore. To delineate this role from a normal pastor, we use the term “presbyteral moderator” in the Archdiocese of Louisville. On a day to day basis, all of the functions of the parish have been delegated to others, but should some extraordinary issue arise, I will be engaged with seeking a resolution to that issue. This rarely happens, but I have been appointed as the presbyteral moderator just in case.
One of the things I have been doing and will continue to do for those parishes on a daily basis is to pray. I always take this responsibility of being a pastor seriously and personally. I pray for all of our parishioners, for those who have died and for their loved ones, for those who have asked me for prayer, for those who are ill, for all of those who receive baptism, first communion, confirmation, or marriage, for those families who receive the blessing of the child in the womb, for all of our high school students and especially for the ones I send letters of congratulations to for academic success, and for our RCIA participants, among others.
This prayer reflects that all authority in all of our lives really comes from God, that we have been given authority for service and that, apart from God, we can do nothing.