Basilica rector gets added responsibility

Fr. Adam Lech has been appointed chancellor of the Edmonton Archdiocese.


Fr. Adam Lech has been appointed chancellor of the Edmonton Archdiocese.

August 27, 2012

Father Adam Lech is the man to go to in the Edmonton Archdiocese. Archbishop Richard Smith appointed him chancellor of the archdiocese Aug. 17.

As such, Lech will eventually oversee the day-to-day running of the Catholic Pastoral Centre.

Josée Marr, Bishop-elect Greg Bittman's executive assistant, has been appointed vice-chancellor.

The Polish native will replace Bittman who has served 12 years as chancellor. Bittman has now been appointed vicar-general of the archdiocese and moderator of the curia and canonical affairs.

Msgr. Jack Hamilton will retain his position as vicar-general.

"I was very honoured when the archbishop proposed me this task," Lech said Aug. 21. "There is no special school you go to learn how to do this job, so I think (the appointment) is based on my 35 years of experience as a priest.

"I know God has a good sense of humour allowing me to become rector of the basilica and now chancellor."

Lech, 61, will keep his posts as rector of St. Joseph's Basilica and as episcopal vicar for international priests. He has served in both roles for seven years.

This will keep him busy but Lech is not complaining.

"My life is not boring," he laughs. "I enjoy serving." However, he plans to delegate some responsibilities.

"At the basilica I have two very good associate pastors; we have spoken and they will be taking more responsibilities off my shoulders."


Lech thinks he will still be able to handle his duties with foreign priests.

That job, he said, consists in being a big brother for them, helping them at the beginning to find accommodation, get their personal ID papers, their Alberta Health Care card, find a dentist and a physician, open bank accounts, get their driver licences, go to school and learn about the policies of the archdiocese.

In addition, Lech says Bittman will continue to handle some chancery responsibilities for some time.

"I will be helping him; I will be an apprentice under his supervision and direction and when he advises so I will come to the Pastoral Centre and do what Bishop Bittman will entrust to me," Lech said in an interview.

"His experience will be for me the school how to be the chancellor."


Lech estimates it may take him a full year to assume all his responsibilities as a chancellor. "We will see how this develops."

In a "poetic way," the chancellor is the right hand man of the archbishop, "although the archbishop has his two hands," Lech said jokingly.

"For sure, the chancellor is an aide to the archbishop in the archdiocese but when you look in the canon law you'll see that the official task of the chancellor is to prepare and sign the official documents and care for the documents and coordinate."


In a way Lech will be the keeper of the secrets of the archdiocese.

"The archbishop has full access to all the documents and all the personnel issues but the chancellor, as a helper, will also be given this task in much more measure than the average priest and of course it's very important to keep secret because it's a ministry, a service to the Church, service to the archdiocese, service to the priests."

Lech came to the Edmonton Archdiocese from Poland in 1995 at the request of Archbishop Joseph MacNeil.