Now, the plot thickens: As of this past week, I am now the Dean (also technically and canonically called the "Vicar Forane"- though Canon 553 also uses the term "Archpriest", wouldn't that be fun?) of the Raritan Bay Deanery of the Diocese of Metuchen. How about some terms:
- A "Deanery" is a group of parishes in a diocese that are in proximity to each other. The twelve parishes of the Raritan Bay Deanery are located in Old Bridge, Parlin, South Amboy, South River, Sayreville, and of course Laurence Harbor.
- Within every Deanery, the Bishop selects a Priest to be the Dean. In my diocese, we are named to a three year term, though this term doesn't prevent the Bishop from removing the Dean from office for a just cause.
So what does a Dean do? That part I'm still learning, but it comes down to this: If you check out Canon Law (specifically Canons 553-555), you'll see most of the duties revolve around providing support to Priests in the Deanery: Supporting them in their work, in their vocations, in their continuing education, and at the times of sickness and even upon their death.
Now for the shameless trappings of office. There aren't many. One is a title. As a Dean, I go from "Reverend" to "Very Reverend". But since I'm too much of a cheapskate to buy new business cards or stationary, that won't be seen all that much. The other are the initials, "V.F.", which can go after my name, but again, I'm cheap, and honestly I don't ever use the other initials I can use after my name for my academic degrees. Finally, on the heraldic front, as long as I'm Dean I go from two tassles to four (sounds almost like something you'd attribute to an aging stripper, doesn't it?) on my coat of arms. That I was able to get, thanks to my pal and heraldic source of all information, Fr. Guy Selvester, who designed my coat of arms last year as a "10th anniversary of ordination" gift.
This appointment was a total surprise to me, and I'm thankful to my Bishop for the honor. I'm also honored by the response I've received from the Priests of my Deanery (we had our monthly get together last Monday). I hope I serve you well.
Ok, just one time:
Very Rev. Jonathan S. Toborowsky, V.F., M.A., M.Div.