Former Chancellor and present Judicial Vicar for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, which has a
Catholic population of some 1,400,000, Msgr. Edward A. Sweeny served
as the pastor of Curé of Ars parish in Merrick, New York for fourteen years and administrator of
two others for shorter periods of time. In the course of his studies he received a BA from Holy
Cross/Cathedral College, an M Div from Immaculate Conception Seminary, and a JCD, JCL, MCL and
PhD from Saint Paul University, Ottawa.
"Edward Sweeny is the former chancellor and present judicial vicar of the Diocese of Rockville
Centre, which has a Catholic population of 1,400,000. He treats Vatican Council II on the parish
and the pastor; the pastor's mission of preaching and catechesis; the administration of the
sacraments and liturgical ministry; the government of the parish through the service of leadership
and the care of temporalities; the conferral and loss of the office of pastor; and unusual
circumstances, such as the care of several parishes by one pastor and parishes without a pastor."
--W. Charles Heiser, S.J. in Theology Digest
Book Survey, Spring 2003
"This book is a rare item these days (it has an imprimatur). It is also, for pastors and
other priests in a parish, a very useful book. Many priests may not have had a thorough course on
this topic in the seminary, and most of them, even if they did have such a course years ago, will
want to refresh their memory by reading this book a few pages each day or by looking up a specific
topic as need requires. Monsignor Sweeney is a former pastor and now the Judicial Vicar for the
Diocese of Rockville Centre, NY. After discussing the basic elements and the characteristics of a
parish, he treats in general of the pastor's sharing in Jesus' prophetic ministry, priestly ministry,
and kingly ministry. And he shows how the present Code is dependent on the documents of
Vatican II and several other Vatican documents. Most of the book then deals with each of the three
ministries of Jesus in which a pastor shares. As for the prophetic ministry, there is a treatment
of the obligations and rights of the pastor concerning teaching: in preaching, catechetics, and
the missionary activity of the Church.
As for the priestly ministry, many details of the Mass and six
Sacraments are considered. There are extended treatments of matters relevant to Baptism, Confirmation,
the Eucharist, Penance, Anointing, Marriage and Funeral rites. It is stressed that the liturgical
texts and directions should be carried out without unwarranted innovations. Many fine points are
made concerning the handling of problems which arise relating to teachings in the Code with
which some parishioners might disagree: for example, admitting to First Communion children who are
only marginally ready.
As for the kingly ministry, the role of the pastor
as leader is especially stressed. He is ultimately in charge of everything in the parish and,
today particularly, must have numerous co-workers, who may be clerical, religious, or lay. It is
the pastor's right to ask members of the parish to volunteer their time and talents in order to
assist in the many aspects of the work of the parish, and he has a duty to see that those who
volunteer are suitably prepared to do so.
Certain rarely exercised powers of a pastor are
dealt with: dispensing from matrimonial impediments, commuting private vows, and commuting obligatory
Mass attendance on Sunday and feast days and the obligations of days of penance. Parochial
financial matters are touched on: keeping books properly, acquiring or alienating parish goods,
and accepting and administering or refusing gifts. Finally there is a treatment of the appointment,
transfer, or removal of a pastor; and a discussion of relatively new practices such as a priest
being pastor of more than one parish, or a number of priests in solidum providing pastoral
care, or parishes being without priests.
At the end the author points out a significant
difference between the 1917 and the 1983 Codes, especially as an effect of Vatican II:
the laity are more actively engaged in parish activities than formerly, and the pastor is more
an orchestrator of multiple activities than he was before. It is good to have someone put all
these matters together for an easy review and a handy reference. Many pastors may already be
aware of everything in this book, but I learned a great deal from it (of course I'm engaged in
teaching and writing and not directly in day-to-day pastoral work). --Rev.
Leonard A. Kennedy, C.S.B. in Homiletic and Pastoral Review,
"Pastor's rights and obligations: In clear language, based on an in-depth study of the
new code of Canon Law, Msgr. Edward A. Sweeney -- Rockville Centre judicial vicar -- explains it
all in "The Obligations and Rights of the Pastor of a Parish According to the Code of Canon Law."
In an easy-to-read format that is well-footnoted, he begins with an explanation of what a parish
is and continues with explanations of different ministerial responsibilities and what to do in
unusual circumstances." --Crux of the News, October 21, 2002