Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
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New Vicar General/Moderator of the Curia named; service is an ‘honor,’ a
Story and phto by Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor, Inland Register
(From the Feb. 7, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)
Father Steve Dublinski, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Spokane, has been named the new Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of Spokane.
He replaces Msgr. John Steiner, who has held the post since 1987.
Father Dublinski is nearly a native of Walla Walla. His family moved there from Chicago when he was just a year old. He attended St. Patrick School and DeSales, then studied for a year at the community college in Walla Walla before entering Bishop White Seminary.
After finishing a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at Gonzaga University he began theology at the North American College, Vatican City. He studied Scripture at the Angelicum in Rome, where he finished his master’s degree prior to ordination in Walla Walla in 1985.
He was an associate pastor at St. John Vianney and St. Charles parishes in Spokane before being named pastoral administrator, then pastor, of St. Charles in 1990.
He moved to St. Mary Parish in 1997.
His new assignment’s impact on his pastoral work has yet to be seen, he said in an interview at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center.
There is some time to work out details – his exact starting date has not been set. He estimates he’ll officially begin the new position in August.
For the last three summers Father Dublinski has been working toward a master of arts degree in liturgy at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. Although he has finished all of the course work, his comprehensive exams remain, a task which faces him the first part of the summer of 2002.
Although he had focused on Scripture during his last year of theology in Rome, his assignment as associate pastor under Msgr. Steiner, at St. John Vianney Parish, sparked an interest in liturgy that’s continued and grown over the years.
It was really Msgr. Steiner who encouraged those first sparks, Father Dublinski said.
Msgr. Steiner “began to nurture that interest in me, because he noticed I had some facility with it,” Father Dublinski said. “He’s been a mentor in the area of liturgy over the years, and has really encouraged me to move forward in those studies.”
Part of Father Dublinski’s liturgy involvement also has included work for several years on the Diocesan Liturgical Commission.
His degree at Notre Dame is focusing on something of an historical study of liturgy. Although liturgy encompasses the celebration of rites and rituals in the Church, “the Eucharist ends up being very focal, because of its preeminence in our sacramental system,” he said.
“The celebration of the Eucharist is central in our spirituality as Catholics,” said Father Dublinski. And “the celebration of that sacrament, and presiding at the sacrament, is very central to my spirituality as a priest. Most everything we do (as priests) flows from the Eucharist, and flows to the Eucharist, including the other sacraments.
“It’s at the heart of things,” he said.
Under ideal conditions, he says, he would spend two years learning the new job, without the responsibilities inherent in being a pastor of any parish, large or small. But he also knows that there is no guarantee that he’ll have that kind of learning time.
He also loves being a pastor. Though he admits explaining it is “difficult to put into words,” central to his love of parish life is presiding over the Eucharistic community “in all its many facets, from celebrating the sacraments, which mark all the important moments in life, to teaching, which is something I especially love doing,” Father Dublinski said.
Then there are “the relationships you form with people. They’re privileged relationship, because you’re with people in very privileged moments of their life. You get to share in the very best of people’s lives as well as the most broken parts of people’s lives. It forms great bonds of community.”
As the new Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, he will be, in a sense, a sort of second-in-command in the Spokane Diocese. But perhaps a more complete explanation of the job doesn’t have to do with authority, but with service.
“The positions in the Catholic Pastoral Center are positions of service to the people of God,” said Father Dublinski. “The Vicar General is of service to the bishop; the bishop is in service to the whole diocese. To say the Vicar General is second in charge sounds really important, but the power we have is the power to serve. The Vicar General helps serve the diocese by serving the bishop, and serving the priests, as well as any other need that emerges.”
As Moderator of the Curia he will be, in effect, moderator of the bishop’s advisory body, the secretariat – administrative division heads. Besides meeting with the secretariat, setting agendas and directing those meetings, he also expects to be involved in consultations with the various secretariats – Evangelization, Schools, Social Ministries, and so on. That will involve spending significant numbers of hours with the division heads, understanding “their jobs and positions and needs.”
Certainly there are significant challenges ahead, but perhaps challenges faced with some anticipation.
“One of the things I look forward to is serving Bishop Skylstad,” said Father Dublinski. He called the bishop “one of the best bishops in the United States.” Serving him as Vicar General is something “I consider to be a great honor, and to work with such a great bishop is a great privilege,” he said. “Serving him and working with him is what’s most attractive about the job. He is a great witness to the Faith, and a great apostle of the Church.”
As with all new jobs, there is a learning curve, and there is the unexpected, which makes those learning curves so challenging – and sometimes, interesting. Whatever the coming months, and years, might bring, he says, “then we will face that when it comes.”
Msgr. Steiner: a life blessed with ‘interesting and challenging ministry’
Msgr. John Steiner steps down this year after 15 years as Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, as well as an additional three years previously as Moderator of the Curia. He was pastor of St. John Vianney Parish, Spokane, during much of the time Father Dublinski was associate pastor there. They have since worked together on the diocesan Liturgy Commission.
“After a total of 18 years in two terms as Moderator of the Curia, I look forward to Father Dublinski’s appointment,” Msgr. Steiner said recently. “I know him well from four years of collaboration in the late 1980s at St. John Vianney Parish. He is a dedicated priest, committed to the Church, and a patient and kind pastor. He will serve the bishop and the diocese well.”
When the transition is complete, Msgr. Steiner will begin a sabbatical period.
“When I asked Bishop Skylstad to make a change over a year ago, I told him I knew that the diocese needed a change and I needed a change,” he said. “I am grateful that the bishop has been positive about my request for a time of sabbatical. After my time away, I look forward to a new assignment.
“God has certainly blessed my life with interesting and challenging ministry,” he said. “I wish Father Dublinski the blessings of good health, strength of purpose, and much success in his new appointment.”
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