The Bismarck Diocese officially gained two priests this June.
To those who closely follow diocesan news, this statement would raise some eyebrows. Yes,
Fr. Adam Maus was ordained a priest
at Cathedral of the Holy Spirit on June 12, but when did this mysterious second priest fall out of the sky?
Fr. Biju Chitteth
was officially incardinated in the Diocese of Bismarck on June 5, permanently making him a priest of our diocese.
Still have questions? Read on.
What is incardination and how does it happen?
When a cleric is ordained a deacon, he is officially “incardinated” in a particular diocese. Incardination attaches a cleric to a particular diocese or religious community and its purpose is to prevent “wandering” or unattached clerics. Those who are incardinated in a particular diocese are subject to the authority of that diocese’s bishop.
In Chitteth’s case, when he was ordained a transitional deacon, his diocese in India (the Diocese of Gwalior) became his home.
How does a cleric become incardinated in a diocese other than the diocese for which he was originally ordained?
The opposite of incardination is excardination. For a variety of sufficient reasons, a priest or deacon can ask his bishop if he can be excardinated, or formally released from his affiliation with one diocese in order to be incardinated in another diocese and become formally affiliated with that diocese’s bishop.
Both bishops must be in agreement in order for the excardination/incardination process to be successful. The bishops decide together whether the reasons for the change are acceptable. Excardination cannot occur unless another bishop has agreed to incardinate the cleric.
What sorts of reasons are necessary for excardination to be accepted?
There are no specific criteria for excardination/incardination. It is handled on a case-by-case basis.
Wasn’t Fr. Biju already a priest of our diocese?
No. After his ordination to the priesthood in 2001, Fr. Biju served in the Diocese of Gwalior, India as an associate pastor, vice rector of a seminary, and he also began an English school. Recognizing his desire to serve outside of the school setting, he asked his bishop for permission to work in another diocese.
Chitteth learned of the Bismarck Diocese from a fellow Indian priest he knew who was serving in Mohall, N.D. In 2007, Chitteth arrived in the Bismarck Diocese under a three-year contract, which was renewed in 2010. As the term of his new contract neared its end, he explored the possibility of incardination in the Bismarck Diocese.
Why did Fr. Biju want to be incardinated here?
He cited numerous reasons for his desire to minister in western N.D. Beyond the need for more priests in the Bismarck Diocese and his love for pastoral works, Chitteth said he has found his fellow priests here to be very cordial and encouraging. Plus, he said he has come to love the people and parishes he has served.
Chitteth has also been a valuable resource to the diocese, as he played an instrumental role in the
establishment of the Congregation of Teresian Carmelites’ new convent in Fort Yates, N.D.
this past spring—the India-based religious order’s first convent established in the western hemisphere. He has also graciously helped many of the diocese’s other international priests make the transition to ministry in America.
Is this the first time this has happened in the Bismarck Diocese?
No. Most recently,
Fr. Shane Campbell
was incardinated in the Diocese of Bismarck in 2013 after being excardinated from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
*Information taken from the Code of Canon Law, canons 265-272.
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