Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Deacon Bill Rabjohn leaving St. Pius X

August 10th, 2013, Promulgated by benanderson

We’ve received word that Deacon Bill Rabjohn will be taking a sabbatical, effective immediately, to pursue continuing education at St. Bernard’s School of Theology this fall semester. St. Pius X’s “assisting priest”, Fr. Don Curtiss, will fill in for Deacon Rabjohn for a week or two until Rose Davis arrives to take the helm. Rose Davis was a contributor to Bishop Emeritus Clark’s book,”Forward in Hope: Saying Saying AMEN to Lay Ecclesial Ministry”. Please keep Deacon Rabjohn, Fr. Curtiss, Rose Davis, Bishop Cunningham, and the parishioners (and former parishioners) of St. Pius X in your prayers.

Canon 521

Can. 521 §1. To become a pastor validly, one must be in the sacred order of the presbyterate.

Ecclesiae de mysterio

It is unlawful for the non-ordained faithful to assume titles such as “pastor”, “chaplain”, “coordinator”, ” moderator” or other such similar titles which can confuse their role and that of the Pastor, who is always a Bishop or Priest.(58)

I haven’t read this entire document yet, but it seems to have some very relevant material in it.

The Supreme Pontiff John Paul II approved this present Instruction and ordered its publication.

Rome, at the offices of the Congregation for the Clergy, 4 August 2002, liturgical memorial of St. John Mary Vianney, Curé d’Ars, patron of parish priests.



33 Responses to “Deacon Bill Rabjohn leaving St. Pius X”

  1. avatar CPT Tom says:

    You would think the assigning of lay, particularly women, administrators to parishes would stop in the interregnum.

    There are some interesting items in Ecclesiae de mysterio

    “All previous norms which may have admitted the non-ordained faithful to preaching the homily during the Holy Eucharist are to be considered abrogated by canon 767, 1.(72)”

  2. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    It’s just trajic that this and other cannons like refusing people, promoting serious evil, like prochoice Catholic politicians and judges, Holy Communion, are ignored. The disobedience is promoted by cardinals and bishops.

  3. avatar snowshoes says:

    Thank you, Ben. Very sorry to hear that my home parish is going from bad to worse. Upon reflection and prayer, it occurs to me that this news coming today with its Gospel is not a coincidence.

    We must be ready for Our Lord’s coming. If the shepherds are abusing the servants, or are asleep, we must do our part to wake them up, and shine the light of the Lord’s day on them. With prayer, and appropriate action, we must bring this development to the level of daylight it takes to stop lay administrators of parishes in the diocese. If that means bringing it to the local and national media: TV and radio, etc, then that is what we need to do. It’s an old saw by this point, but the diocesan leadership thrive in dark places, but they shun the light. Let us work to shed light on this situation according to the appropriate steps, through ecclesial channels up to and including getting the story aired in the national and international news. This abomination must stop, by the grace of God, and the intercession of Our Blessed Mother. God bless you. St. Clare, pray for us.

  4. avatar militia says:

    The laity have it almost totally within their power to change this situation, but many are so poorly catechized that they don’t understand. They need to be taught by those who DO understand. Simply STOP GIVING even one penny to the parish in question. Nothing. Nil. Nada. It is the only language understood by Diocesan leadership and staff. If the parishionrs feel guilty about not giving, then give it to a parish led by a faithful priest. Or give it to suitable charities (not CCHD or CRS.) Or save up the money and give it when a good priest pastor is named. It will give him a good start to undo the evil and disobedience.

  5. avatar Interstate Catholic says:

    Ordained for two and a half months and he gets a sabbatical?
    I’ll be waiting for the rest of the story.

  6. avatar gaudium says:

    A sabbatical for a deacon is controversial in the diocese. It is understood that a priest can have one in a career and the pastoral administrators are upset about it and object strenuously to deacons having them. The whole thing is a bit odd.

  7. avatar Persis says:

    In addition to prayers for SPX & NBVM, I think we should be praying for the people of the Cathedral Community also. They have had much change thrust upon them the past few years. And this summer lost 3 “fixtures” (the Bishop Emeritus, Fr. Mulligan & now Rose Davis), for better or worse, of their community.

    I can only hope that this “cleaning house” at the Cathedral Community means a new Bishop will be named very soon.

  8. avatar Persis says:

    I should probably clarify my reference to Nativity of the Blessed Virin Mary in Brockport. I read in today’s bulletin from St. John’s in Spencerport that Charlotte Bruney, who is quite ill, (prayers for her, too!) is resigning effective August 12th and Sr. Joan Sobala will be taking over as ‘Pastoral Administrator’.

  9. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    Here a huge number of posts were done concerning the a deacon’s changing the assignment of a priest and now, the deacon leaves 2 months later. Is there something I am missing?

  10. avatar Ron says:

    I wonder how Father Mayer is doing down in Geneva. He seems to have dropped of the radar – but maybe he realized it was best to not stir the waters or to give the appearance that he is encouraging others to do so. I wish him well.

  11. avatar Diane Harris says:

    Fr. Mayer is on WHIC 1460 as I write this — 4 to 5 PM on some Mondays. It’s a call-in show.

  12. avatar Dan Riley says:

    Check out this web site about Mr. Rabjohn. The man who appointed himself “Chief Executive Officer” of a parish.

  13. avatar militia says:

    This coming weekend’s bulletin for SPX shows Deacon Rabjohn “on sabbatical” but also removes his blogspot from the masthead. It seems completely impossible for a new deacon to have a sabbatical. THere are many deacons over +20 years of service who have never had a sabbatical. A leave of absence I would believe. A suspension I would believe. A year to discern I would believe? But a sabbatical? Just sayin’

  14. avatar BigE says:

    He may be a new deacon, but he’s been in his position as the pastoral administrator or associate for a while. And since his post deacon assignment was almost identical to his pre-deacon responsibiliies, I don’t see where the “completely impossible for a new deacon” issue is even relevant in this case. I would think the sabbatical has more to do with his responsibilities as a pastoral administrator than with anything involved with his ordination as a deacon.

  15. avatar militia says:

    thanks Big E. So pastoral administrators and deacons DO get sabbaticals? Who pays for them? Would he be drawing salary from SPX during this period? May priests take 6 months, but are pastoral administrators and deacons given a year? Just trying to clarify what the policy is. Isn’t it strange that there was no announcement in the months in advance, but it is just sprung on the parish so immediately, after the new year (July 1) assignments are in place? Do you think it is strange? unusual? Do you think there is a health problem? Just trying to understand how this happens.

  16. avatar BigE says:

    Most deacons are unpaid and either work (or are retired from) full time jobs in the secular world. So sabbaticals and any issues around pay for them is a moot point. I have no idea what the policies are for the minority of deacons that work full time in a paid church position and/ or for pastoral administrators.

  17. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    I’d rather not get into the speculation business of trying to find out all the intricate details, but I’ll tell you this… Deacon Rabjohn left a decent paying job in industry to go into ministry initially for a protestant church (ecclesial community) to work for peanuts. I believe it was a further pay cut when he began working in the Catholic Church. IOW, whatever this is all about, I highly doubt money should be involved in the conversation. Whatever disagreements we may have, we should be careful to commend what is commendable – Deacon Rabjohn’s willingness to leave behind the pursuit of earthly possessions is commendable.

  18. avatar BigE says:

    Amen to that….

  19. avatar militia says:

    I don’t think the topic of who pays salary/benefits and more during a sabbatical is so inconsequential for a parish already $20,000 short on their projected collections.

  20. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    I’m not saying it’s inconsequential and that you shouldn’t be asking those questions. I’m just trying to prevent the conversation from becoming (or anyone thinking in their mind), “he doesn’t deserve to be paid during this sabbatical”. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t, but this combox is not the place to resolve that.

  21. avatar militia says:

    I didn’t realize this topic was not allowed. Perhaps you know more about this situation than I do, so I’ll respect that too. But it is unsettling.

  22. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Sorry, militia – I didn’t mean to say it’s not allowed. Feel free to discuss. I was just throwing in my 2 cents. No, I don’t know anything more than what I’ve stated.

  23. avatar Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Hi everyone….greetings from San Giovanni Rotondo where one finds the sanctuary of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio). I am surprised to hear that Deacon Bill R. is leaving St. Pius X and that Rose Davis is coming. I have nothing profound to add to any thing already stated. Yet it is surprising that the Deacon (before he was ordained) told Father Mike that without him at St. Pius he (Bill) could be the leader that he believes he is called and equipped to become. And now, he is leaving that parish and someone else is coming….and Father Mike the beloved priest is gone….I remember Rose Davis from when I studied at SBI. She was a faithful Catholic who gave me the kind of fellowship one hungers for at SBI. I HAVE NOT SPOKE WITH HER FOR YEARS, BUT I DO HOPE SHE IS IN COMMUNION WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

  24. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    greetings from San Giovanni Rotondo where one finds the sanctuary of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)

    wow! You better be saying some bonus prayers for us here in Rochester, my friend 🙂

  25. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    He was incredibly holy. It was too bad I never heard of him while growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. But when I went there I actually sat on his bed. Now life means following Christ but the thought of being so physically close to the environment of someone who was so close to God is comforting.

  26. avatar christian says:

    Wow Dominick! San Giovanni Rotondo – What a holy and inspirational place to be! Padre Pio was a great priest and saint who continues to lead people to God.

    Have a wonderful time and a safe trip home. And say some prayers for all of us.

  27. avatar snowshoes says:

    Please pray for Deacon Rabjohn, evidently he was in an accident and seriously injured his back. I do not know his condition at this time.

    Kindly assist me in understanding the formal canonical structure of St. Pius X Parish in Chili. In the Code of Canon Law, Book II, Part II, Section II, Title III, Chapter VI,
    Code of Canon Law, listed below, it indicates that a priest-moderator must be assigned for parishes that do not have their own priest-pastor.

    Can. 517 §1. When circumstances require it, the pastoral care of a parish or of different parishes together can be entrusted to several priests in solidum, with the requirement, however, that in exercising pastoral care one of them must be the moderator, namely, the one who is to direct the joint action and to answer for it to the bishop.

    (Forgive me, I am not familiar with attaching citations, I realize I’m breaking a rule here.)

    Now, I’m given to believe that St. Pius X does have a priest-moderator, and that it is Father Schramel, who is pastor at St. Jude’s, St. Helen’s and Holy Ghost. Can anyone verify this? It seems to me that if this is true, to not proclaim the appointment of a priest to such a required ecclesiastical office to the people who have a right to know, namely, the parishioners, is a misdeed which rises to the level of an ecclesiastical crime of great seriousness.

    I am not accusing Father Schramel of the crime, Father Schramel is a fine priest, but rather, the bishop who would withhold the proclamation of the appointment to the office of Moderator of the Parish of St. Pius X. I cannot think of a reason for not naming the Moderator, can anyone help clear this up? If this situation is true, it casts a different light on the whole situation of the “Lay-run diocese”, for then, on paper at least, to the Vatican, everything might look fine canonically if priest-moderators are listed for all parishes in the Diocese without a resident priest-pastor. The crime comes in the withholding of the names of those priest-moderators from the parishioners.

    I haven’t yet researched the penal canons to find which one applies in this situation, but something is ringing in the back of my head that withholding the proclamation of appointment to ecclesiastical office without a serious reason, such as is done with the appointment of certain Bishops in countries such as China where the publication of the appointment would result in certain persecution, is a grave abuse.

    Previous – Next
    Click here to hide the links to concordance


    Can. 515 §1. A parish is a certain community of the Christian faithful stably constituted in a particular church, whose pastoral care is entrusted to a pastor (parochus) as its proper pastor (pastor) under the authority of the diocesan bishop.

    §2. It is only for the diocesan bishop to erect, suppress, or alter parishes. He is neither to erect, suppress, nor alter notably parishes, unless he has heard the presbyteral council.

    §3. A legitimately erected parish possesses juridic personality by the law itself.

    Can. 516 §1. Unless the law provides otherwise, a quasi-parish is equivalent to a parish; a quasi-parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful in a particular church, entrusted to a priest as its proper pastor but not yet erected as a parish because of particular circumstances.

    §2. When certain communities cannot be erected as parishes or quasi-parishes, the diocesan bishop is to provide for their pastoral care in another way.

    Can. 517 §1. When circumstances require it, the pastoral care of a parish or of different parishes together can be entrusted to several priests in solidum, with the requirement, however, that in exercising pastoral care one of them must be the moderator, namely, the one who is to direct the joint action and to answer for it to the bishop.

  28. avatar sydwynd says:

    I don’t beleive this requirement applies to SPX. The canon applies to the situation where the pastoral care of a parish or parishes is given to SEVERAL PRIESTS. In which case one of them must be named the moderator. Pastoral care for SPX is not now and never has been shared by several priests therefore a priest moderator is not required. SPX has been part of a loose affiliation with other parishes on the West side of town but it was only for the purposes of pastoral planning and/or coordination. None of that planning was binding.

  29. avatar snowshoes says:


    Thank you, I must agree with you as to the application of the particular canon, but you have not answered my question, which I didn’t pose as clearly as I should have. IS Father Schramel, or is any other priest, listed as the moderator of St. Pius X? I have it on reasonably reliable account that he is, which is why I went researching the canons having to do with a priest moderator of a parish. I’m not a canon lawyer, so I’m looking for help here. Pope St. Gregory the Great, pray for us.

  30. avatar Diane Harris says:

    I have the impression that having a priest responsible for a parish may, in some instances, be paperwork only. One priest about 10 years ago told me that he was the priest moderator for a few parishes. One of the parishes was 60 miles away. I don’t believe he ever said Mass there, but met once in a long while with the nun who ran the parish. Personally, I don’t see how that can fulfill the intent of the canonical obligation.

  31. avatar sydwynd says:

    As a parishioner at SPX, I know Fr. Schramel is not listed as any way associated with our parish or staff. If he has been given some sort of title as priest moderator, no one in our parish is aware of it. We have one priest assigned to us, Fr. Curtis, and he is our assisting priest. Not sure where the information about Fr. Schramel was from, but if he’s associated with SPX, it’s news to us.

  32. avatar snowshoes says:

    Thank you, Sydwynd and Diane. Diane, thank you for sharing the priest’s admission. I agree with you that the arrangement you describe does not fulfill the intent of the canonical obligation as described above for a priest-moderator of several parishes. How do we even categorize such misuse of canonical office? I wonder if that priest realizes into what peril he places his soul when consenting to permitting his name to be associated with such an “arrangement”?

    Our Lord has established the Church with Ordained Fathers at each level: the Pope, who is given the office of loving and praying for and guiding all the people in the world, the Bishop of a diocese who is given the office of loving and praying for, and guiding all the people in his diocese, and the Pastor of a parish, who is given the office of loving and praying for and guiding all the people in his parish. There is no other “organizational model” than this, and the Diocese of Rochester must be complying, at least on some official document, to list priest-pastors or priest-moderators for all parishes. Pope Francis recently stated that pastors should be so close to their flocks that they should “smell like the sheep”. That poor priest, Diane, probably wouldn’t recognize his sheep if he fell over them, and they wouldn’t recognize him either, at least not as their own pastor.

    So, the diocese MUST list a priest pastor (or moderator, or ?) for each parish IAW Canon Law, or the appropriate Vatican office would come down on the diocese quickly. If we take this as a given, then, where is the Diocesan document? May we see it, please???

    I think this is one of the foundational tactics put in place years ago, using Sol Alinskyesque “community organizing” techniques, namely, to obfuscate, and to keep secret what certain diocesan officials are doing in order to advance the lay-run agenda. My question has been asked before in various ways by many people, but I think it is time now to get an answer as to just which priests are named as pastor of parishes, or moderator of parishes.

    Again, I believe that the deliberate failure to proclaim the ecclesiastical appointment of a priest as pastor or moderator of a parish to the people of a parish, without a serious reason, is a canonical crime of the first order. I ask for your assistance to get an answer to this question. St. Jean Marie Vianney, priez pour nous.

  33. avatar Churchlady says:

    UPDATE:Just need to say that Rose Davis has been a blessing at SPX. She is only 1/2 time but conveys a sense of calm assurance. She and Fr. Curtiss seem to have worked out a positive and appropriate working relationship. He is CLEARLY the priest and leads the congregation. Having Mrs. Davis has given many of us a much better (and even more positive) sense of a “pastoral administrator”. She is present at Masses, quietly greeting people as they enter and leave. She does NOT assume herself to have any role on the altar. She has provided us with pertinent info regarding the parish, finances, programs, etc. on a few occasions but does NOT seem to have a need to be in our faces with announcements. She has also written some very nice reflections in the bulletin.

    Many of us longtime parishioners are just so glad to be able to attend Mass without the tension obvious between Deacon Bill and Fr. Mike. Since Deacon Bill has resigned we are now just holding our breath again to see who will be assigned to us full time as Mrs. Davis will return to the Cathedral full time at the end of the month we think. Since it won’t be a priest, hopefully any new pastoral administrator would have the maturity and ability to lead without monopolizing. We’ve now experienced two very different PA’s. Wish Mrs. Davis could continue.

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