To continue addressing the needs of the Diocese of Nashville, Bishop J. Mark Spalding has announced several structural changes among the senior leadership staff, effective Sept. 3, 2020.
Brian Cooper, currently the Chief Administrative Officer and Vice Chancellor, will become the Chancellor and Chief Operations Officer of the diocese.
Julie Perrey, currently the Director of Human Resources, will become the Chief Mission Integration Officer and Vice Chancellor.
Deacon Hans Toecker, currently the Chancellor, will become the Director of Pastoral and Clergy Support.
Father John Hammond, Vicar General and Judicial Vicar, will assume supervision of several clergy-led ministerial departments.
“Having had the time to better understand the needs of the diocese and to have experienced the gifts of our people, it is an appropriate time for realignment given the current challenges that we face,” Bishop Spalding said.
The changes come following guidance from the Vatican published June 29 in a document entitled “The Pastoral Conversion of the Parish Community in the Service of the Evangelizing Mission of the Church,” which calls for a renewal of diocesan and parish structures to support communion and collaboration between priests and the laity.
The document, under the direction of Pope Francis, calls for an “outgoing dynamism” through collaboration among different parish communities reinforced through communion among clergy and laity oriented toward an evangelizing mission as the task of the entire People of God.
“Mindful of the particular gifts of Father Hammond, Brian, Julie and Deacon Hans, these changes have been made to both the structure and job responsibilities to better address the needs of the diocese as a whole,” Bishop Spalding said.
“One of the first things Brian and I discussed when I became bishop was pursing his master’s degree in church administration at Villanova University to enhance the skills he developed in his long career in the financial sector,” the bishop said. “He completed that program with flying colors this past May, and the benefits of that educational experience will help guide our long-range planning into the future.”
“The hiring of Julie, who joined the diocese in March, has been a great addition to the administration of human resource issues,” the bishop said. “She has fit into the team very well. Her gifts and the experience developed in her career in state government have helped us manage through the challenging period of the COVID pandemic and while providing organizational leadership.”
“I am grateful to Deacon Hans for his 20 years of service as Chancellor,” Bishop Spalding said. “He has been a key member of my staff since my appointment as bishop of Nashville. He has been a source of support and strength to me and my two predecessors. Going forward, I see him as a great support to our priests and deacons in this new role. It will play to his strengths even more than his current position.”
“Father Hammond has demonstrated great skill and leadership in a number of areas including the revitalization of the deanery system, and in addressing administrative and canonical issues,” Bishop Spalding said.
Under the new structure, the Director of Vocations, the Director of University Catholic, the Director of the Tribunal, and the Director of Pastoral and Clergy Support will report to Father Hammond as Vicar General and Judicial Vicar.
Cooper is entrusted with the duties of the Moderator of the Curia, supervising the Chancery directors and fielding inquiries into the Chancery that require canonical, pastoral and theological intervention, including matters of great sensitivity.
He will mediate grievances at both the diocesan and parish level. Cooper also serves as advisor to the bishop by identifying, analyzing, and discussing diocesan issues and providing recommendations to the bishop regarding disposition of such issues.
He oversees the annual planning, prioritizing and budgeting process for Chancery services and programs and is responsible for all archival, records and information management functions and assuring the appropriate disposition of the historic, cultural and artistic patrimony of the Diocese of Nashville. The Chancellor is responsible for authenticating the official acts of the bishop and for signing, verifying and/or witnessing all official acts of the Curia.
This role also provides strategic oversight of financial services, information technology, administrative support to church assets across the diocese including Catholic Schools, Offices of Faith Formation, Stewardship and Development, Catholic Charities of Tennessee, the Tennessee Register, Catholic Media Productions, and multiple other diocesan corporations and ministries.
The Office of Chancellor ensures that acts of the Curia are safeguarded in the archive of the Curia, and acts as Ecclesiastical Notary in both civil and canon law issues, and signs curial acts which have juridic effect. He writes, acts, and instruments regarding decrees, dispositions, obligations, or other tasks required of him.
As Chief Mission Integration Officer and Vice Chancellor, Perrey will oversee the diocesan strategic direction in the areas of human resources, safe environment program, government relations and archives. As the Vice Chancellor, Perrey is responsible for ensuring that record-keeping and administrative tasks under the direction of the Bishop and the Chancellor are completed.
“I appreciate the willingness of Father Hammond, Brian, Julie, and Deacon Hans to take on these new roles and responsibilities, and am grateful for the commitment of the Mission Services Offices and staff members working to support the parishes across Middle Tennessee,” Bishop Spalding said.