Assignment of Priests

SECTION I: Purpose and Function of Priests' Assignment Commission

1) To make recommendations to the diocesan bishop relative to the assignment of all priests. The recommendations shall reflect a concern for the welfare both of the people of the Diocese of Lansing and of the priests who serve them; all priest assignments will be made in view of the general good of the diocese, the characteristics of the parish, and the talents and background of the individual priest.

2) To maintain regular personal contact with each priest of the diocese, as needed, to determine his concerns regarding work preference and the conditions of his current assignment. Any priest of the diocese may request a personal meeting with the Priests’ Assignment Commission at any time; so also the commission may request a priest to meet with it.

3) To make recommendations to the diocesan bishop relative to all petitions for incardination.

4) To review the qualifications and to make recommendations concerning appointment of priests from other dioceses or religious communities whose superiors have released them for temporary service in the Diocese of Lansing. When a religious superior nominates a priest member of his community to serve in a parish committed to the pastoral care of the community, only the diocesan bishop’s official appointment is needed.

Strict confidentiality will be observed by everyone in the assignment process.

SECTION II: Membership and Terms

1) One priest each from the Clinton-Shiawassee, Jackson, Lenawee-Hillsdale, Livingston, Washtenaw vicariates, and two each from the Genesee and the Lansing vicariates shall be elected from among and by the incardinated priests of the respective vicariates for staggered terms of three years.

2) One parochial vicar shall be elected from among and by the incardinated parochial vicars for a three year term.

3) Membership on the commission terminates either by completion of term, resignation, transfer from the vicariate which he represents, or change of status in the case of the parochial vicar. Vacated offices will be filled at the next presbyteral convocation and candidates elected will serve a full term.

4) No commission member shall serve more than two consecutive terms, but may be re - elected after a one year interval.

5) The diocesan bishop attends commission meetings ex officio. The chancellor attends as a consultant at the request of the diocesan bishop and/or of the commission.

SECTION III: Elections

1) Elections shall be held at the annual presbyteral convocation of each year to fill the vacancies resulting from completion of terms, resignations or transfers.

2) In the event of a tie vote, a runoff election will be held.

SECTION IV: Incardination Process

1) All provisions of canons 265-272 shall be observed.

2) When a diocesan priest or a religious priest wishes to be incardinated into the Lansing Diocese, he will make a formal written request for incardination to the bishop. The formal request must include:

   a) written statement from his proper diocesan bishop or major superior approving his request for incardination;

   b) a curriculum vitae;

   c) the reason for seeking incardination;

   d) complete physical exam using diocesan health form and results of required psychological testing by professionals designated by the Diocese of Lansing;

   e) three letters of reference from parishes and/or institutions in which he has served in the past three years;

   f) results of a police check.

3) He will be interviewed by the Priests’ Assignment Commission which will make a recommendation to the bishop relative to commencing the incardination process itself and to any assignment to be given during the probationary period.

4) After making the formal petition for incardination, he will serve in the diocese for a probationary period of three to five years. Each year of the probationary period, his performance and ministry will be evaluated by the Department of Pastoral Formation. The evaluation will consist of contact with the petitioner himself and his pastor/superior. Said evaluation will be reviewed by the Priests’ Assignment Commission. At the conclusion of the probationary period, following an optional interview, the Priests’ Assignment Commission will make a final recommendation to the bishop relative to his incardination into the diocese. The bishop will make the final decision.

    If the decision is not in favor of incardination, the bishop must so inform the petitioner no later than four months following formal petition for incardination (c. 268 §1 and see commentary on that canon in Code of Canon Law Annotated, ed. E. Caparros, et alia, 1993;  pp. 225-226).

5) Candidates for incardination will be assigned to approved diocesan housing, ordinarily rectories, unless otherwise stipulated by the diocesan bishop.

6) The salary is to be negotiated with the diocesan bishop or his delegate.

7) Pension benefits for such priests after incardination: Pension benefits shall be received based on the actual years of service in the Diocese of Lansing.

SECTION V: Appointment procedures for priests Pastorates, Parochial Vicars and Special Ministries

1) Assignment of pastors will take place each spring.

2) By December first of each year, each priest will submit a letter to the diocesan bishop by which he will evaluate his current assignment, effectiveness of his ministry, and to state any concerns or desire for change.

3) Early in the new year, the commission will send all priests of the diocese a list of vacancies created by death and anticipated vacancies created by retirement or resignation. Priests will be invited to:    

   a) apply for one of the vacancies; or

   b) simply indicate a willingness to be reassigned.

4) Priests will have a limited number of days in which to respond.

5) When applying for an assignment, the applicant should indicate how and why he feels qualified for the particular vacancy for which he is applying.

6) A second round of openings will be published, if necessary. There will be no subsequent rounds.

    Recommendations for any further appointments that year will be made directly by the Assignment Commission to the diocesan bishop. The time frame does not allow for additional rounds of open applications. Hence the importance in step 3 of applying for one of the vacancies or simply indicating a willingness to be reassigned. Recommendations for appointments will be made to the diocesan bishop.

7) In its deliberations, the Office of the Bishop will contact individual priests regarding a proposed assignment.

8) After the appointment has been known to the parishes involved, the presbyterate and media will be notified.

9) New assignments normally begin on the last Wednesday in June.

10) Priests being appointed to their first pastorates should be assigned a mentor for the first year, and will usually be appointed as Parochial Administrators for that first year. Assignment of the mentor should be made by the diocesan bishop in consultation with the Priests’ Assignment Commission.

11) Vacancies, which will inevitably occur in pastorates and special ministries throughout the year, will be handled in the following manner:

   a) Every effort will be made to fill the vacancy with a temporary administrator until the position can be filled according to normal policy.

   b) If, in the judgment of the bishop or the commission, it is not feasible to use a temporary administrator, the vacancy shall be opened to the application of eligible priests. A letter indicating this, along with a profile of the parish or institution, shall be sent to all priests of the diocese. There shall be a fourteen-day period for making application. The same consultation outlined above will be observed except for the deadlines.

12) Whenever possible, the assignment of parochial vicars should be coordinated with the assignment of pastors in order to effect smooth transition in parishes affected by the change of personnel. The newly ordained will be assigned by the diocesan bishop following consultation with the Priests’ Assignment Commission in consultation with the director of the Office for Seminarians.

13) In a particular circumstance, the bishop may dispense from this process.

SECTION VI: Senior Priests

1) Priests wishing to seek senior status must submit a written request to the bishop no later than December 1st. Apart from cases involving extraordinary circumstances (such as poor health), acceptance of these requests normally takes effect on the last Wednesday of June following the December 1st deadline.

2) In keeping with c. 538, all pastors are asked to submit their resignation from the office of pastor no later than the completion of their seventy-fifth year of age. The diocesan bishop shall decide whether to accept or defer acceptance of the resignation.

3) Priests may seek senior status upon completion of their sixty-fifth year of age. Those ordained or incardinated after 2008 may do so at the completion of their seventieth year of age.

[1] Also see cc. 145-196; 273-274.

Date approved by Bishop

Posted by
Msgr. S. J. Raica, chancellor