TOLEDO—Father Charles Ritter, associate pastor of Sylvania St. Joseph, has been elected diocesan administrator. The administrator oversees diocesan operations until a new bishop is appointed.
During a press conference Dec. 19 announcing the election, Fr. Ritter said his role as administrator is to basically keep things running until a new bishop is appointed. He further explained the Code of Canon Law spells out what an administrator is not to do: “while the see is vacant, there is to be no innovation. So great, wonderful new ideas, programs, directions: none.”
|Father Charles Ritter explains his role as diocesan administrator during a press conference Dec. 19. (Chronicle photo by Angela Kessler)
His job is to keep things functioning and to enable people in diocesan ministries and parishes to keep doing their jobs.
“If you can imagine an aircraft carrier at sea and it’s 2 a.m. The captain is in his cabin asleep, but there’s an officer on the deck and he’s basically responsible for running the ship. Don’t sink the ship. Don’t start a war. And make sure when the captain wakes up in the morning, there are no surprises. That’s kind of my job for the next ‘X’ number of months,” Fr. Ritter said.
Further, he said, his plan is to “meddle in as few things as I can.” There will be some issues he will need to work through and begin conversations about, but he plans to be very collaborative throughout the process, he said, adding that he will often rely on advice from the College of Consultors.
There are commitments previously made that he will fulfill, such as representing the Diocese of Toledo at United States of Conference of Catholic Bishops meetings. He also plans to be very communicative with diocesan department heads and priests throughout the diocese.
As far as his work as associate pastor at St. Joseph, Fr. Ritter said he hopes his new position will have little effect. He will continue to preside at weekday Masses and funerals as his schedule allows and wants to continue leading Sunday morning adult education programs.
“I’d like to disrupt the situation at Sylvania as little as possible,” he said.
Officially, the Diocese of Toledo became sede vacante — without a bishop — when former Bishop Leonard P. Blair was installed as Archbishop of Hartford, Conn., Dec. 16.
Under the Code of Canon Law, the College of Consultors, a body of eight priests who advise the bishop in more important matters of diocesan administration, had eight days to elect an administrator. The consultors are Father Michael Brown, Msgr. William Kubacki, Fr. Ritter, Father David Ross, Msgr. Christopher Vasko, Father Dennis Walsh, Father Herbert Weber and Father Michael Zacharias.
Fr. Ritter, 71, was born and raised in Toledo and graduated from Toledo Central Catholic High School in 1959. He attended Xavier University and earned his bachelor’s degree from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. He has a Master of Arts in Philosophy from Mount St. Mary’s and a Master of Arts in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University.
He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Toledo in 1967 and has served as pastor at Montpelier Sacred Heart, Marysdale Immaculate Conception, Bryan St. Patrick, Toledo Immaculate Conception and Leipsic St. Mary. He has served as associate pastor at Toledo Most Blessed Sacrament, Toledo St. Charles, Fremont St. Ann and Findlay St. Michael.
His diocesan service has included director of the diocesan Social Justice Office from 1979 to 1989, director of RENEW 2000 and dean of the Our Lady, Queen of Peace Deanery.