News & Press

July 25, 2018 – Cardinal Appoints Rev. Jonathan DeFelice, O.S.B. Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese of Boston

Fr. Jonathan
Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, OFM Cap announced the appointment of Reverend Jonathan P. DeFelice, O.S.B. as Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese of Boston. Father Jonathan currently serves in the Tribunal for the Diocese of Providence and is the President Emeritus, Saint Anselm College. His appointment is effective September 4, 2018. Father Jonathan succeeds Most Reverend Mark O’Connell, JCD, who is Auxiliary Bishop for the North Region in the Archdiocese of Boston.  

“Father Jonathan is an experienced leader and gifted priest,” said Cardinal Seán. “We are pleased that he has accepted this new assignment to lead the Metropolitan Tribunal. I am grateful to Bishop Mark O’Connell for faithfully serving as Judicial Vicar since 2007, especially the past two years while also leading the North Region.” The Cardinal extended his appreciation to the Order of Saint Benedict for supporting Father DeFelice’s appointment to the Archdiocese. 

Father Jonathan said, “I am very grateful to Cardinal Seán for inviting me to assume this important work for the Archdiocese of Boston. Humbled by the prospect, I am very much looking forward to getting to know all involved and to continuing the excellent work of Bishop Mark O'Connell.”

Bishop Mark O’Connell said, “I am grateful to Cardinal Seán for his confidence in me to lead the Metropolitan Tribunal of Boston since 2007. It has been a privilege to work with a wonderful staff and committed volunteers. I am most grateful to Fr. Christopher Palladino who as Adjutant Judicial Vicar has been the day to day operations manager since I was named Bishop in 2016. I congratulate Fr. Jonathan DeFelice, OSB on his appointment as Judicial Vicar and I am excited by what he will offer the Cardinal and the Archdiocese with his vast experience in the Church.”

Reverend Jonathan P. DeFelice, O.S.B.  

Father Jonathan, a native of Bristol, Rhode Island attended Our Lady of Mount Carmel School and is a graduate of Portsmouth Abbey School where he served as a member of the Board of Regents. He entered Saint Anselm Abbey in 1968 and earned an A.B. in philosophy at Saint Anselm College. He professed solemn vows as a Benedictine monk in 1973 and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1974 after studying theology at Saint John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass. In 1983 he received a licentiate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

Father Jonathan was president of Saint Anselm College from 1989-2013. Following his retirement as president in July 2013 the Board of Trustees conferred on him the title President Emeritus. Before he assumed the presidency, Father Jonathan served the college in a variety of other capacities, including instructor of Theology, dean of students, assistant to the academic dean and dean of freshmen, and associate director of campus ministry. In addition, he was a member of the Governing Board of the college since 1985. At Saint Anselm Abbey, Father Jonathan was subprior and master of junior monks between 1985 and 1986, and was prior and director of formation from 1986 until becoming President of the College.

Father Jonathan has served on many boards and commissions. A founding member and past Chair of the Association of Benedictine Colleges and Universities, he was a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and the American Council on Education.

Having led Saint Anselm College for twenty-four years, he was deeply involved in the New Hampshire academic, business and non-profit communities. This includes being past Chair of the New Hampshire College and University Council and Chair of the New Hampshire Higher Education Commission. He was founding Chairman of Campus Compact New Hampshire, an association of colleges and universities to promote service learning and a founding member of the New Hampshire Forum on the Future and served on its advisory board. He served the community through positions on the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Catholic Medical Center and Optima Healthcare Board of Directors among many others.

Following his presidency, he lived and ministered at St. Joseph’s Parish in Greenwich Village, New York City and served as part-time Executive Director of the Association of Benedictine Colleges and Universities. In July 2015 he was loaned to the Diocese of Providence, RI, where he was Assistant Moderator of the Curia and Vice Chancellor of the Diocese until June 2018. Currently he serves in the Tribunal of the Diocese of Providence.

Most Rev. Peter J. Uglietto, S.T.D., Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia for the Archdiocese of Boston, said, “The role of Judicial Vicar is an important position in the diocese. In Bishop Mark we have seen the Tribunal address issues in a fair and just manner, respecting the individuals involved and the responsibilities of the Church. We welcome Father Jonathan to the Archdiocese of Boston and offer our prayers and support as he undertakes the work and ministry ahead.” 

Metropolitan Tribunal  

Like our civil law government, there are three branches of governance in the Church and in an Archdiocese: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. In a (arch)diocese the Legislative branch to make laws is contained solely in the “Ordinary” so in our case, in Cardinal Seán as the Archbishop. Executive authority, as in the power to make day to day decisions for the diocese can be given to a “Vicar”, so for example, the “Vicar General” executes the law vicariously for the Ordinary. In the same way, the Ordinary give vicarious judicial authority to his “Judicial Vicar” to exercise all things that fall under the judicial branch of governance. Bishop Mark O’Connell has held that position for eleven years. 

The Metropolitan Tribunal is the Ecclesiastical Court of the Archdiocese of Boston and The Metropolitan Tribunal of Boston is charged with the administration of justice, as a court of first instance and as an appellate court, for matters of the public good brought before the Church. Although most cases brought before the Tribunal involve questions of marital nullity, the court also acts as the competent forum for other issues, including penal matters.