Bishop appoints first lay woman as pastoral administrator

Thu, Feb 8th 2018 09:00 am
Office of Communications
Deborah Brown will be installed as the pastoral administrator Sunday at St. John the Baptist Parish in Alden.
Deborah Brown will be installed as the pastoral administrator Sunday at St. John the Baptist Parish in Alden.

Bishop Richard J. Malone has named the first lay woman to lead a pastoral team at a parish.

Effective Jan. 3, Deborah Brown began her duties as pastoral administrator at St. John the Baptist Parish, Alden, for a term of one year.

Father James A. Walter and Father Joseph C. Gatto will assist at the parish serving as sacramental minster and priest moderator, respectively. Father Gatto will continue his duties as president-rector at Christ the King Seminary, East Aurora. Father Walter is retired.

Brown, who earned her master's degree in pastoral ministry and a certificate in parish administration from Christ the King Seminary, has a diverse background in church ministry. She was pastoral associate at the Newman Center at the State University of New York at Buffalo for more than four years, worked as a continuing education instructor at Christ the King Seminary for five years and was director of spiritual life at St. John the Baptist Parish, Lockport, for almost 10 years.

"I am very passionate about parish life," Brown said. "I believe that the pastoral administrator model is both a boon for parish life as well as the future way that we can keep parishes from closing."

In 2007, Bishop Edward U. Kmiec approved guidelines for the appointment of pastoral administrators to help with parish assignments in the wake of a shortage of priests. A pastoral administrator is a lay person, a vowed religious or a deacon who participates in the pastoral care of a parish entrusted to him or her, and whose provision of pastoral care is supervised by a priest moderator. When such an arrangement is in place, a sacramental minister would celebrate sacraments and provide other designated priestly ministry in collaboration with the pastoral administrator and priest moderator.

In her new role, Brown may be involved with many areas of parish life, including presiding and giving scriptural reflections at Communion services and other prayer services; hiring, supervising and evaluating parish staff; and administering the parish finances.

The first female administrator in the diocese was appointed by Bishop Edward D. Head, Sister Mary Augusta Kaiser, SSJ. She served as parish life coordinator of St. Mary of Sorrows Parish in Buffalo from 1992 to 2007. Since then, several deacons have taken on the role, but only a few women have served in this capacity.
Other female administrators have included Mary Weisenburger, who worked together with her husband, Deacon Paul, at St. Lawrence Parish, Buffalo, from 2007-13; Sister Barbara Riter, SSMN, who served at St. Anthony, Lackawanna, from 2008-15, and Sister Lori High, SSMN, who has been serving at St. George Parish, West Falls, since 2016.

In addition to the new team at St. John the Baptist Parish in Alden, Bishop Malone announced the reappointment of Father David R. Glassmire to a second term of six years as pastor at Ascension Parish, Batavia. Along with his diocesan assignments, Father Glassmire, who was ordained in 1994, served as a military chaplain. While deployed to Camp Dwyer in Afghanistan. His parish assignments have been as parochial vicar at St. Agatha, Buffalo; St. Bernadette, Orchard Park; and St. Mary of the Assumption, Lancaster. He was temporary administrator at St. Mary, Pavilion, before being named pastor at St. Anthony Parish, Lackawanna. He was assigned to Ascension Parish, Batavia, in 2011.

Msgr. James G. Kelly was appointed to the Priests' Personnel Board for a term of three years. Msgr. Kelly, who retired from active priestly duties in 2012, represents Seniority Group 5 on the board.   

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