New Chancellor Appointment A First for Diocese of Rockford
Ellen Lynch, diocesan counsel, has recently been appointed the Diocese of Rockford’s first woman chancellor. (Observer photo by Penny Wiegert)
By Penny Wiegert, Editor
March 6, 2015

DIOCESE—Changes in diocesan administration are not all that unusual for any Catholic diocese. The structure of all dioceses are governed by the Code of Canon Law which helps maintain a consistent workflow and ethic for the administration of duties along with all services and sacraments provided to each and every person in the church.

However, a recent modification in the Diocese of Rockford is a bit historic. On Feb. 26, Bishop David Malloy announced in a letter to all clergy and the diocesan administration that he appointed Ellen Lynch as Chancellor of the Diocese of Rockford, effective March 1. With this appointment, Msgr. Eric Barr, completes his service as chancellor but continues as Vicar General and pastor of Holy Family Parish in Rockford.

Although in dioceses throughout the country, the title has been held by women, Lynch is the first woman to hold that title in the Rockford Diocese.

Lynch takes on the role in addition to her duties as general legal counsel for the diocese. Also in that letter, Bishop Malloy named Father Matthew Bergschneider as Vice-Chancellor. Father Bergschneider is also the Adjutant Judicial Vicar and Advocate for the Diocesan Tribunal and parochial administrator of St. Mary Parish, Durand and St. Patrick Parish, Irish Grove.

In many dioceses, including Rockford, the chancellor, assisted by any appointed vice-chancellor, oversees specific aspects of the many areas of concern, i.e., the proper archiving of parish sacramental registers and compliance in maintaining record retention policies for the diocese and parishes.

The primary role of the chancellor is to gather, arrange, and safeguard the acts and the archives of the diocesan curia. That is, he or she is responsible for the orderly arrangement and accessibility of the records and files that keep the diocese running and are its recorded history. This is especially true in regard to the sacramental registers which are the sacramental history of every diocese. The chancellor is also the official notary on all of the documents issued by the diocesan bishop. The office of the chancellor also helps disseminate information to clergy, parishes, and the Catholic faithful that may be beneficial to the people of the Diocese of Rockford.

More and more often, the chancellor either assumes the duties of archivist or coordinates the activities of diocesan archivists in preserving both the recorded history of the diocese as well as the preservation of its historical artifacts.

These duties and appointments are outlined in the Code of Canon law for every Catholic Diocese beginning in Canon 482.