Archbishop announces changes at Tribunal

Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley has announced the appointment of a new Judicial Vicar for the archdiocese, Father Mark A. Mahoney who has until now been a member of the staff of the archdiocesan court which handles judicial cases, mostly marriage cases, assumed his new responsibilities on July 13.

Msgr. Michael S. Foster who had been the Judicial Vicar left the post of judicial vicar his five year term of appointment having expired on July 1 and will be undertaking a program of priestly renewal. Both priests have extensive formation and experience in canon law.

The new judicial vicar was born in Boston and grew up in Needham, a son of St. Joseph Parish where he celebrated his first Mass following his ordination in 1986. An alumnus of Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood, he attended archdiocesan seminaries in preparation for ordination. He has served as parochial vicar in two parishes: St. Joseph, Wakefield and St. Mary, Holliston. He served as chaplain at his alma mater, Xaverian High, and at the same time was in residence at Mary Immaculate Parish, Newton. In 1999 he was assigned to the staff of the Metropolitan Tribunal and was in residence at Holy Name Parish, West Roxbury.

He was awarded the licentiate degree in canon law from the Catholic University of America on completion of his studies there in 2002; he then returned to the tribunal as a staff member. In 2003 he assumed the additional responsibility of administrator of St. Joseph Parish in Lincoln. He will relinquish the duties of administrator of the parish in Lincoln when it is changed from a parish to a worship site as a result of the archdiocesan reconfiguration process.

Father Mahoney replaces his former boss, Msgr. Michael S. Foster who completed his assigned term on July 1. Msgr. Foster was born in Stamford, Conn. and he completed his formation for ordination at St. John Seminary and was ordained at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross by Cardinal Medeiros of June 14, 1980. His first assignment was to Immaculate Conception, Malden followed by Sacred Heart, Newton, in both he served as parochial vicar. In June 1986 he began a series of assignments at the Metropolitan Tribunal: secretary (1986-1987); staff (1989-1992 and 1994-1999); adjutant judicial vicar (1994-1999). He completed his first advanced degree, the licentiate in canon law in 1989, and returned some years later for the doctorate awarded in 1994.

During his years of service at the Tribunal, Msgr. Foster lived in residence in several different parishes: St. Jerome, Arlington; St. Mary of the Assumption, Brookline, St. John the Evangelist, Newton; and more recently at St. Peter, Cambridge.

Twice over the past two years Msgr. Foster has been on administrative leave, a single allegation of sexual abuse was thoroughly investigated on two different occasions and by two different panels and both times he was exonerated of the charges. This as might be imagined has been an incredibly difficult time for him personally as well as for his friends and brother priests. The completion of his term as judicial vicar will give him the chance to undertake a period of priestly renewal and sabbatical leave.

The Holy Father Pope John Paul II named the then Father Foster a member of the papal household as a Prelate of Honor with the title of Reverend Monsignor on October 2, 2001.

The Pilot staff is grateful for Msgr. Foster’s enduring contribution of a series of articles about annulments that he wrote. The series was subsequently revised into a book, “Annulment: The wedding that was”, published by Paulist Press in 1999. In addition, Msgr. Foster has published articles in canon law journals. He has been active member of the Canon Law Society of America, serving on various committees and for a term as president of the society.