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Canonical Services

Canonical Services Department

The Department of Canonical Services contains the Diocesan Tribunal, which handles cases that are subject to the Canon Law of the Church as well as the Office of Due Process, which is responsible for the peaceful settlement of disputes within the Church. The department is administered by Monsignor Paul F. Stefanko. In addition to his work as the Bishop's Cabinet Secretary for Canonical Services, Msgr. Stefanko is also the Judicial Vicar of the Diocese of Portland.

General Information

The Department of Canonical Services (Tribunal and Due Process offices) assists the Bishop in his judicial role in the diocese. It serves:

  • To promote, protect and vindicate the rights and privileges or the People of God in accordance with natural and ecclesiactical law.
  • To facilitate full participation in the sacramental life of the Church and more intimate union with God by removing when possible juridical barriers such as previous marriages.
  • To provide canonical expertise to the bishop, priests, religious and laity of the diocese, especially with regard to marriage legislation.

The overall responsibilities of the Tribunal staff are to:

  • Examine Petitions for Marriage Nullity/Dissolution.
  • Place our canonical expertise more fully at the service of other departments and the overall mission of the diocese.
  • Meet the canonical needs of the diocese by continuing to dialogue with the Bishop concerning present and future personnel information.

Click here for information on Marriage Annulments in our diocese

To contact a specific member of the department staff, please feel free to use the e-mail address tribunal@portlanddiocese.org. To call a staff member outside of regular office hours, please dial 773-6471 and the extension provided below.

Directory of Staff

Name & Position

Extension

Rev. Msgr. Paul F. Stefanko, JCL
Department Director & Judicial Vicar

Ext. 7837

Father John D. Dickinson
Adjunct Judicial Vicar

Ext. 7838

Father Claude Gendreau
Notary

Ext. 7808

Shannon C. Fossett, JCL
Canonist

Ext. 7854

Father Joseph Koury, JCD
Canonist

Ext. 7838
Chris Siuzdak
Canonist
Ext. 7852

Office of Due Process

Sacred Scripture urges us to settle our disagreements within the Church community. (I Cor 5:1-7) Concern for the dignity of the human person and the protection of each person's rights are an essential part of the church's mission as a true witness to the spirit of the Gospel.

However, rights without institutional safeguards are meaningless. With this in mind the Bishop of Portland has established a service in this diocese to assure that the actions of persons in authority will embrace the church community's sense of fairness in their conduct.

A person in the diocese having a dispute or grievance arising from the exercise of office or position (cleric or lay) may present the matter to the Office of Due Process. (Some disputes, such as matters of doctrine, are not appropriate for mediation). A trained mediator will attempt in an impartial manner to assist those persons to construct a solution with is satisfactory to both sides. This is the process of MEDIATION.

What is Mediation?

It is a method of resolving disputes with the aid of a third party who helps people find their own mutually satisfactory solution.

Why Mediation?

  • Mediation is a good alternative for resolving disputes because it
    reaches solutions quickly
  • equalizes power of both parties
  • provides communication skills
  • minimizes bitterness and hostility
  • costs less, both emotionally and financially, than adversarial processes

Responsibilities of the Office

  • To have as a primary concern the reconciliation of the parties in a dispute
  • To receive and hear a grievance from any person of the diocese who seeks this service
  • to assist in the wording of a formal petition, stating the grievance with precision and verifying that it truly expresses the position of the petitioner
  • to attempt to motivate and assist the parities in settling a dispute between themselves, while suggesting possible areas of compromise of other suitable solutions
  • to give and receive assurances that strict confidentiality will be observed by each person present

Who are the Mediators?

They are women and men located throughout the diocese who have been selected for their maturity and capacity for impartiality. These mediators have received professional training and undergone supervised practice in mediation skills.

How to Request Mediation:

Ms. Shannon C. Fossett, JCL
Director, Office of Due Process
510 Ocean Ave.
Portland, ME 04103-4936
(207) 321-7854
dueprocess@portlanddiocese.org