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

Two receive ministry appointments

the Inland Register

(From the April 16, 2015 edition of the Inland Register)


After seeking the advice of the College of Consultors, Father Michael Savelesky, Diocesan Administrator, has made the following appointment:

Promoter of Justice
• Father Ty Schaff

After seeking the advice of the Director of Deacon Life and Ministry, Father Michael Savelesky, Diocesan Administrator, has made the following appointment:

• Deacon Victor Lopez
St. Peter Parish, Spokane

– Both assignments are effective immediately
– Announced at the Catholic Pastoral Center April 16, 2015

A priest and a deacon of the Spokane Diocese have received new ministry appointments, effective immediately.

Deacon Victor Lopez, ordained Aug. 10, 2012, will now serve at St. Peter Parish in Spokane. He has been ministering at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Father Ty Schaff, who retired from active ministry less than a year ago, on July 1, 2014, has been named Promoter of Justice.

Father Schaff (right) was ordained to the priesthood June 9, 1973.

He was given two assignments as assistant pastor before he was named pastor of the parishes in Northport and Kettle Falls in June 1981. He went on to serve as pastor of the parishes in Davenport and Reardan in September of that year. In 1987 he became pastor of Assumption Parish, Spokane, and after seven years there moved to become pastor of St. John Vianney Parish, Spokane Valley. His last assignment before retirement was pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Spokane.

Father Schaff also spent over 20 years as an Air Force Ready Reserve chaplain. He was Wing Chaplain for the 141 Air Refueling Wing Washington Air National Guard, and was activated in support of Desert Storm, and was later deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

He was appointed to the Diocesan Review Board on Sept. 24, 2014.

The Diocesan Review Board is established as a confidential consultative body to the Catholic Bishop of Spokane. The mission of the Review Board is to oversee the implementation of policies and procedures for the prevention and response to sexual misconduct by clergy, staff and volunteers of the Diocese of Spokane.

The Review Board’s responsibilities include ensuring that the diocese responds quickly to victims and cooperates in a timely fashion with civil authorities, and the just treatment of the accused persons.

The majority of the Review Board members are laity who are not in the employ of the diocese and are of outstanding integrity.

Father Mark Pautler, Judicial Vicar of the Spokane Diocese, described the role of the Promoter of Justice this way:

The Promoter of Justice is an appointed position on the diocesan Tribunal whose function is to uphold the “public good” in matters that are defined as such by canon law or that have become sufficiently “public” in the mind of the diocesan bishop. The work of most diocesan tribunals primarily is concerned with matrimonial nullity procedures, which by definition of law concern the public good. In this context, the role of the Promoter is fulfilled by the officer known as the Defender of the Bond. However, the Promoter can exercise a wider scope of responsibility.

In 2002, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops established the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The Charter mandated the establishment of a Review Board in each diocese to advise the bishop in matters involving the sexual abuse of minors. The Review Board considers allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy or church ministers as well as instances of alleged violation of the Diocesan Code of Conduct. The Board is advisory to the bishop, making recommendations to him. Norm n. 5 of the Charter recommends participation by the Promoter of Justice on the Review Board. In this context, the rights of the faithful and the right of an accused person to the due process of law are clearly matters of the public good. Because of his unique position in the Tribunal of the diocese, should he deem it necessary, the Promoter of Justice can make a recommendation to the bishop independent of the Board.

The practical duties of the Promoter include participation in meetings of the Diocesan Review Board as an ex officio voting member. In that context he is to provide a correct understanding of the ecclesial rights of any individual under discussion. He is to ensure that any individual under discussion is offered opportunity to address the Board in person. Likewise, he is to ensure that discussions, deliberations and actions by the Board and/or its members are fair, ethical and within the scope of its Charter of Responsibility.

The bishop must seek the opinion of the Promoter with respect to disciplinary action or canonical sanctions, especially those taken against a member of the clergy in his diocese.

Deacon Victor Lopez (right) and his wife, Evangeline, have one child. He retired from a career in banking customer service prior to ordination.

According to Father Brian Mee, pastor of St. Peter Parish, Deacon Lopez’s ministry there “is not fully fleshed out at this point, but it will be largely liturgically driven. He will serve as deacon at the parish masses and preach as scheduled. He will be overseeing Adoration in the parish (the parish has Tuesday and Saturday adoration and he will be instituting First Friday Adoration and Benediction). He will also be taking over the training of servers.”

Deacon Lopez will also be helping with the parish’s RCIA program.

“I think he will be a great addition to the parish and I am looking forward to his ministry in the parish,” said Father Mee.

In an interview with the deacon prior to his ordination, he talked about his hopes for his ministry.

“I desire to bring people closer to God,” he said, especially through sacramental ministry – baptism, marriage, and preaching. “I know that at a certain point in my life, I became convinced that Christ was saying to me what he had said to thousands before me: ‘Come, follow me!’ … Through the diaconate, I will be able to concretely respond to God, who has first loved me.”

(Inland Register file photos)

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