Terry Ginther
Terry Ginther

By Mary Stadnyk | Associate Editor

With 15 years of diocesan leadership and several different titles on her curriculum vitae, one might say that Terry Ginther knows her way around Church ministry. 

Her service in the Diocese has been largely focused on religious education and pastoral planning, and as executive director of the Office of Parish Life and Mission, she has shepherded the Diocese’s ministerial work on behalf of family life and marriage, youth and young adults, pastoral care, multicultural outreach and campus ministry. 

But as of July 1, Ginther will take on a new and very different role – diocesan chancellor. 

Ginther has been appointed by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., to succeed Anthony Mingarino, who will retire on June 30 following a 14-year career with the Diocese during which he was chief administrative officer and, since 2011, was also chancellor.

In the Code of Canon Law, a chancellor is defined as a diocesan administrator who is responsible for maintaining and safeguarding all official records regarding the spiritual and temporal affairs of the Diocese. The chancellor also serves as a notary, secretary to the diocesan curia and also assumes any other duties assigned by the Bishop.

The role of chancellor is an “essential responsibility for record keeping in the Diocese,” Ginther said, noting that when the Bishop signs any corporate or ecclesial document, it’s the chancellor who witnesses the Bishop’s signature.

Reflecting on becoming chancellor, Ginther smiled as she noted that she is the first woman to serve in that role in the Diocese’s 136-year history.

“It’s a huge honor,” Ginther said.

“I see it as an opportunity to raise up the good work that has been done in the Church by many women,” said Ginther who appreciates statistics such as those reported by The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate indicating that in 2016, 21 percent of the chancellors serving in the country’s 197 archdioceses and dioceses were women. There is also Pope Francis, she said, who has been “fairly outspoken on the feminine genius and the need for the gifts of women to be put at the service of the Church.”

Ginther, a resident of Wall Township and member of St. Denis Parish, Manasquan, will serve as chancellor while remaining in her current position as executive director of the diocesan Office of Pastoral Life and Mission. In that capacity, she heads the Department of Pastoral Planning as well as oversees the diocesan Departments of Pastoral Care, the newly configured Department of Youth and Young Adults and Department of Evangelization and Family Life. She also oversees the areas of campus ministry and movements and retreat houses and serves on the diocesan Construction and Real Estate Commission.

Ginther holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va., and a master’s degree in pastoral ministry from Caldwell College, Caldwell. She and her husband, Adam, have two adult children.

Before coming to work in the Chancery, Ginther served as pastoral associate for Christian formation in St. Mary of the Lake Parish, Lakewood. She was part of a four-person, faith-formation team who was responsible for the parish religious education program, a family-based model for sacramental preparation and a family-based catechesis program.

In 2002, Ginther began her first diocesan position as associate director for the Office of Catechesis. In 2007, she was named diocesan director of pastoral planning, and in 2011, Bishop O’Connell named her to her current position on the diocesan curia.

As director of the Department of Pastoral Planning, Ginther works with pastors to help them establish parish pastoral councils and undertake planning for ministry. Her previous work included guiding the development of “Led By the Spirit – A Pastoral Plan for the Diocese of Trenton” from 2007-2009, which introduced broad-based online surveys and regional consultation to determine the priorities about which people felt most strongly.

In 2014-2015, she coordinated the work of committees to create the Plan for Ministry Among Spanish-speaking Catholics and the Plan for Strengthening Marriages in the Diocese.  Since mid-2015, she has collaborated with Msgr. Leonard F. Troiano, episcopal vicar for planning, on the Faith In Our Future Initiative, an eight-step initiative inaugurated by Bishop O’Connell, meant to strengthen and enliven the parishes of the Diocese.

Over the years, Ginther has continued her professional development through study and training in the Diocesan Educational and Catechetical Leadership Institute, St. Mary’s Center for Continuing Formation, Baltimore; Certificate Program in Council Development and Pastoral Planning, St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minn.; Church Management Institute, Villanova University Center for the Study of Church Management, Villanova, Pa.; and Tending the Talents Parish and Diocesan Leadership Development Program, Catholic Leadership Institute, Wayne, Pa.

In 2016, she was awarded the prestigious Lumen Gentium Award from the National Conference for Pastoral Planning and Council Development. The Lumen Gentium (“Light of the Nations”) award is named for the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church’s universal call to holiness and encouraging the active participation of the laity.

“In my various roles … I have had the opportunity to interact with people from all around the Diocese who deeply care for the Church and who have dedicated their lives to sharing the Gospel with others. They inspire me and I think they challenge me in my own service to the Church,” Ginther said. “I feel my work is an extension of myself and an expression of my faith.”