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Cardinal appoints new vicars forane

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Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley, OFM Cap. has announced the appointment of vicars forane for the 20 vicariates forane of the archdiocese. The effective date of the appointment of each vicar forane was Oct. 1, 2014; and the term of appointment is for three years.

The office of "vicar forane," sometimes called "dean," pertains to the diocesan bishop's representative to the priests and people of the vicariates of the diocese.

A "vicar" is a priest who provides pastoral care or carries out some responsibility in the name of the diocesan bishop; while, "forane" comes from the Latin referring to the outer regions of a place -- usually areas distant from a city.

Vicars Forane were first created in times when transportation and communication were limited; so in the outer regions of a diocese, the vicars forane represented the diocesan bishop who was not readily available to his priests.

The Archdiocese of Boston is divided into five pastoral regions (Central, Merrimack, North, South, West), each of these has a Regional Bishop (Merrimack and South) or a Regional Vicar (Central, North, West). Each of the regions has four "vicariates" or "deaneries." Within each of those vicariates the archbishop appoints a vicar forane after hearing from the priests of the vicariate about which priest might be suitable for such an office. Each vicar forane is entitled to use the title "Very Reverend" in formal correspondence during the tenure of his appointment; he may also append the initials VF to his name in such communications.

Cardinal Seán O'Malley relies on his vicars forane to ensure that critical issues of the Archdiocese of Boston are discussed by his priests and that their ideas and concerns are brought to his attention. He has appointed the vicars forane to ensure that the priests in each parish are connected to the archdiocese and living healthy holy lives. In accord with Canon Law the archbishop carries out his responsibility of inspecting the parish canonical records through these same vicars. Clearly, it is a crucial role in how the archdiocese functions and a key component in the Pastoral Plan: "Disciples in Mission."

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