The Chancery is the administrative headquarters of a diocese. The Diocese of Trenton’s Chancery is located in Lawrenceville. Staff photo
The Chancery is the administrative headquarters of a diocese. The Diocese of Trenton’s Chancery is located in Lawrenceville. Staff photo
" With an estimated 1.5 billion Catholics worldwide, the Catholic Church relies on a unique organizational structure to serve the very diverse Body of Christ. "
With an estimated 1.5 billion Catholics worldwide, the Catholic Church relies on a unique organizational structure to serve the very diverse Body of Christ. As members of that Body and through their Baptism, the faithful are united with Jesus, the Holy Father and their bishop, and share a call to discipleship with the whole Church.

To assist her very large Catholic family the Church relies on a hierarchy of bishops and pastors to manage its household.

Diocesan Bishop: a priest appointed by the pope alone who serves as the chief administrative officer and governor of a diocese. Subject to the pope, he exercises ultimate spiritual, executive, legislative and judicial power within the jurisdiction of his diocese and his rights and responsibilities are defined in canon law.

Diocese: a diocese is a portion of the people of God that is entrusted to a diocesan bishop by the pope for him to shepherd with the cooperation of the presbyterium, so that adhering to its pastor and gathered by him in the Holy Spirit through the Gospel and the Eucharist, it constitutes a particular Church in which the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church” of Christ is truly present and operative.

Parish: a parish is a certain community of the Christian faithful stably constituted in a particular diocese whose pastoral care is entrusted to a priest, pastor or administrator appointed by the bishop and under his authority. A parish is never independent from the diocese/bishop to which it belongs.

Pastor: a pastor (or administrator) is the priest of the parish entrusted to him by the diocesan bishop, exercising the pastoral care of the community. He carries out the functions of teaching, sanctifying and governing, also with the cooperation of other presbyters or deacons and with the assistance of lay members of the faithful. A pastor is never independent from the bishop.

Diocesan Curia: every diocese has a “curia,” consisting of the chief officials of the diocese appointed by the bishop. These officials assist the bishop in governing the diocese.

Presbyteral Council: in a diocese, a group of priests is chosen to assist the bishop in an advisory manner concerning the pastoral good of the diocese. Every diocese must have such a council according to canon law. About half of the members of the council are freely elected by the priests of the diocese. The others have membership either because of a position that they hold ex officio or because of appointed by the bishop.  It is for the bishop to decide when to consult the council unless otherwise determined by canon law, to preside over the meetings unless another priest is delegated for this purpose and to determine the agenda, whether the items for inclusion are his own initiative or proposed by council membership or requested by a priest.

Finance Council: in every diocese, a finance council is to be established over which the bishop or his delegate presides and which consists of the finance officer and at least three baptized Catholic members of the diocese, truly expert in financial matters and civil law, and of outstanding integrity. Members are appointed by the bishop individually to a renewable term of five years; the council must be consulted in matters of financial significance to the diocese (e.g., preparation and execution of the annual diocesan budget, study of diocesan investments, revenues, expenses, etc.). Individual parishes in a diocese must also have a parish finance council.

Pastoral Council: in every diocese, to the extent that pastoral circumstances recommend although do not require it, a diocesan pastoral council may be established whose responsibility it is to investigate under the authority of the bishop all those things which pertain to pastoral works, to ponder them and to propose practical conclusions about them. When it exists, a pastoral council’s deliberations are advisory and consultative. The establishment of parish pastoral councils depends upon the judgment of the bishop. After having consulted his presbyteral council, if he judges it appropriate, a pastoral council is to be established in each parish of his Diocese.

Chancery/Diocesan Pastoral Center: is the administrative headquarters of a diocese.