Governance of the Diocese of Rochester officially became the work of Bishop Salvatore R. Matano on Jan. 3 when he took possession of the 12-county diocese and was installed as ninth Bishop of Rochester.
Every bishop has three main components of his mission: to teach, to sanctify and to govern, said Father Joseph A. Hart, who served as vicar general and moderator of the curia under Bishop Emeritus Matthew H. Clark from 1998 until Bishop Clark's 2012 retirement.
"The bishop is given broad latitude to configure the curia," which consists of the chief officials of the diocese, added Father Hart, who for just over a year has served as delegate to the diocese's apostolic administrator, Bishop Robert J. Cunningham of Syracuse.
However, the Code of Canon Law calls for the bishop of each diocese to appoint a vicar general who is provided with "ordinary power ... who is to assist him in the governance of the whole diocese."
"The bishop sets up his own governance. He can choose anyone to be vicar general. But he's already asked me to remain as vicar general to provide some changeover stability," noted Father Hart, who also will serve as moderator of the curia.
Other appointments that were on hold during the sede vacante (vacant see) -- the period between Bishop Clark's resignation and Bishop Matano's installation -- can now be made since the diocese has a bishop once again. So priests whom Bishop Cunningham named as parochial administrators now will be confirmed as pastors, Father Hart said.
Additionally, the diocesan Priests' Council, which disbanded during the sede vacante, reconvened Jan. 7 for the first time since Bishop Clark's resignation, Father Hart said. The council, which last met Sept. 12, 2012, was reconstituted with the same members who had been elected just prior to Pope Benedict XVI's acceptance of Bishop Clark's resignation.
Also during the transition period, the bishop will interview for a secretary, most likely to be filled by a diocesan priest, Father Hart added. Due to a shortage of available clergy, Sister of Mercy Mary Ann Binsack had served as Bishop Clark's secretary, with the title director of the Bishop's Office, he said, noting that she will continue serving Bishop Clark during his retirement.
Until a new secretary is appointed, Father Daniel White from the Burlington Diocese will fill that role, Father Hart said.
"Father White will help during the transition period," he noted.