Diocesan Council Regular Meeting December 24, 2004
The Diocesan Council of the Diocese of Chicago & Detroit met at its regular meeting on December 24, 2004. His Grace, Bishop Peter of Cleveland presided at the meeting. Members of the council present were: Priest Martin Swanson, Priest Victor Boldewskul, Reader Andrei Urtiew (Treasurer), and Priest Gregory Joyce (Secretary).
After Bishop Peter provided a detailed report on the spiritual life of the Diocese and important issues in Church life impacting our diocese, Reader A. Urtiew provided a comprehensive financial report. At the previous Diocesan Council meeting held in October, 2004 several working committees were formed. Three such committees provided reports. Priest Jeremiah Loch provided a draft Clergy/Volunteer Sexual Abuse policy to the Diocesan Council. After discussion and amendments, the policy was adopted in draft form. Copies of the report will be sent to all diocesan Rectors seeking their comments. Father Jeremiah will review all comments, and he will present a final version for consideration at the March Diocesan Council meeting (March, 2005). The Diocesan Council thanked Fr. Jeremiah for his vast efforts in compiling the policy from the best aspects of such existing known policies, and forming a policy that conforms to both civil and canon law. Priest Martin Swanson provided a preliminary report from the Clergy Compensation Committee. From Fr. Martin’s report it became clear to the Diocesan Council that affordable healthcare policies with acceptable coverage levels are readily available. These will make it possible for smaller parishes to provide healthcare coverage for their clergy, and provide enormous savings to those parishes that currently provide insurance. Likewise, a fair minimum salary and pension plan is clearly within affordable reach of the vast majority of parishes as well. The Council thanked Fr. Martin and the Compensation Working Group for their hard work and concrete results, and asked that several aspects of the policy be finalized for adoption at the March, 2005 meeting. Fr. Martin Swanson also provided a preliminary report from the Diocesan Pastoral School Committee. Although the Diocesan Council considers it ideal that clerical candidates attend the full course of Theological Studies at Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, NY, it is also clear that this is not possible for everyone who would like to serve the Church in such a capacity. Fr. Martin provided a detailed proposal of a Diocesan Pastoral School. The proposed program will be a two-year course of study. The Diocesan Council thanked Fr. Martin (who in his secular life was the Vice President of Washington University in St. Louis, MO) for his detailed proposal. The proposal was adopted in draft form, subject to proper ecclesiastical approval.
Other issues addressed by the Diocesan Council at this meeting included a slight redesign of the Spiritual Court process (note: the Spiritual Court met separately on this same day to discuss and resolve several issues that pertain to their mission). Other items addressed include: the proposal to engage an executive assistant for Bishop Peter, the discussion of clerical vacancies in the diocese and the best ways to fill these with high-quality candidates, issues surrounding the proposed Diocesan office space, the list of seminarians to be sent a Christmas gift by the Diocese, the proposed visit of the Kursk Icon to the Diocese during Great Lent 2005, the continued missionary activities of the diocese, and the proposed organizing of the monastic clergy of the diocese into a Brotherhood. Under Bishop Peter’s guidance, the 5-hour meeting was marked by a spirit of cooperation and progress, and there was a general feeling that long overdue actions were adopted which will spiritually benefit our flock and our missionary growth. The Diocesan Council will meet prior to the annual Diocesan Great Lent Pastoral Retreat in March. The results of this meeting will be presented at the Pastoral Retreat.
Priest Gregory Joyce