Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Consultors to convene to elect Diocesan Administrator

the Inland Register

(From the November 20, 2014 edition of the Inland Register)

Without announcement or fanfare the afternoon of Nov. 6, seven white business envelopes were slipped into the outgoing mail at the Catholic Pastoral Center. Each envelope bore an eye-catching red and blue “Personal-Confidential” stamp next to the address. The contents: ballots for the election of a Diocesan Administrator.

The seven recipients of the ballots were the current members of the College of Consultors, a group of priests appointed by the bishop from the membership of the Presbyteral Council. The College will convene on Thursday, Nov. 20, for the canonical election of the Administrator.

Members of the College are: Msgr. Kevin Codd, pastor of St. Thomas More Catholic Student Center at Washington State University, Pullman, and Co-director of Vocations; Father Tim Hays, pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Colbert, and Director of Priests’ Continuing Education; Father Pat Kerst, pastor of St. Mary Parish, Spokane Valley, and St. Joseph Parish, Rockford; Father Miguel Mejia, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Spokane, and diocesan liaison for Detention, Cursillo and Charismatic ministries; Msgr. Pedro Ramírez, retired; Father Mike Savelesky, pastor of Holy Rosary Parish, Rosalia, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. John, and administrator of St. Rose of Lima Parish, Cheney, and Moderator of the Curia; and Father Steve Werner, pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Pasco.

Church law gives the Administrator the authority and responsibility of overseeing the Diocese of Spokane until the Holy See appoints its next bishop. The new bishop will be the seventh Chief Shepherd of the diocese, succeeding Archbishop Blase Cupich, who is now the ninth Archbishop of Chicago. The See of Spokane has been vacant (sede vacante) since the moment the archbishop took possession of his See at a Mass of Installation at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago on Tuesday, Nov. 18.

A small but excited entourage of priests, deacons and laity from the Diocese of Spokane was present for the Mass of Installation. Given the restricted size of Holy Name Cathedral, seating was limited to ticket holders.

According to Church law, the election of the Diocesan Administrator is to take place within eight days of the See becoming vacant. The election is by secret, sealed ballots which will be opened and counted under the watchful eye of Father Mark Pautler, Chancellor and Judicial Vicar of the Spokane Diocese.

The Administrator must be a priest at least 35 years old and “outstanding in doctrine and prudence,” the fundamental qualifications for the job as presented in canon law.

Church law governing canonical elections and the special rules or statutes in place for the Consultors specify what is to be done if no priest receives a majority of votes on the first or second ballots. The statutes for the election were recently approved by Archbishop Cupich and make it possible for Consultors who cannot be present at the convocation on Nov. 20 to vote absentee. The one who is elected Administrator obtains the office merely by accepting the election. There is no special ritual or rite. However, the Administrator is required to make a Profession of Faith in the presence of the Consultors. He also is to advise the Holy See of his election, which is done by informing the Apostolic Nuncio in Washington, D.C.

There is no need to watch for white smoke. Arrangements have been made for the Chancellor to announce to the priests and deacons of the diocese – and then to the public at large – the name of the priest elected Diocesan Administrator.

Besides the responsibility of electing the Diocesan Administrator, the College of Consultors fulfills other obligations specified in Canon Law. The Constitution of the College of Consultors, including the statutes for the Administrator’s election, is in the Diocesan Policy Manual on the diocesan website:

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