January 1, 2016
Fr. Josh Ehli’s suitcase was still packed from his most recent trip to Rome when he found out that he might as well just keep it that way.
Upon returning from a pilgrimage to attend the ordination of Deacon Doug Krebs this past October in Rome, Fr. Ehil learned that he had been appointed for a position at the Vatican. Bishop Kagan had been contacted by the Holy See by letter and had given permission for the appointment.
The news opened up an unexpected chapter in his life. “I was honored by the invitation to work for the Holy See,” Fr. Ehli said. “This is a great opportunity for me to grow personally and professionally. I am aware of the challenge that awaits me in this line of work and my duty to remember that every piece of paper represents a person.”
Working for the Congregation
Fr. Ehli will be working for the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, one of the nine Congregations of the Holy See. It was formally established in the 16th Century though its roots stretch further back in Church history. At that time, the
Prop, as its commonly known, was charged with overseeing the establishment and maintenance of the Catholic Church in the East and West Indies in addition to caring for the Catholic Church in a newly fractured Protestant Europe.
However, with the rapid expansion of exploration and colonization in the 17th Century the competence of the
Prop was extended by 1622. Cardinal Filoni, Prefect (Moderator, traditionally known as the Red Pope) of the Congregation says the following about some of the Congregation’s work: "The ongoing commitment of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, together with the Episcopal Conferences and individual Bishops, is to bring to the local Churches in mission territories the ability and resources to create all the structures and legal staff that allow, together with pastoral life, the capacity to administer justice, the source of peaceful coexistence.”
To give an idea of the area Fr. Ehli will be working with, he explained that the Congregation covers all of Africa, the Far East and a large part of Oceania (with the exception of Australia and the Philippines) in addition to parts of the Americas.
A typical workday
Most of the nine Congregations hold a staff of between 16-20 priest officials who report to the their respective Congregations for work in and around the Vatican on a typical workweek.
“I will mainly be assisting the Congregation in its work and correspondence with English speaking mission territories,” explained Fr. Ehli. “In the evenings I will be mentoring newly ordained priests who are finishing their graduate studies in Rome before returning permanently to work in their dioceses. This latter work will take place at the Casa Santa Maria, graduate house for priests from the U.S., Australia, and England. The Casa, located in the heart of Rome near the Trevi Fountain, will also serve as my place of residence.”
More specifically, among Fr. Ehli’s duties will be assisting the Congregation in diocesan boundaries; oversight of life of the faithful, discipline of clergy, charity organizations, catholic schools and universities, seminaries, financial collections; appointment of bishops; disciplinary matters for clergy and men and women religious and priest recourses against bishops.
“Basically, I will be studying the acts of a given case, writing a synthesis and presenting it to my superiors for the final decision and signature,” he noted. “I will then be responsible for communicating the decision to the petitioning party via letter.”
Fr. Ehli, who has ordained in 2009, said he’s honored to be part of a great act of generosity by Bishop Kagan to send one of our diocesan priests to work for the Holy Father and the Church in Rome. He’s no stranger to the Italian capitol having spent nearly two years there from September 2013 to June 2015 completing his studies in canon law.
“I very much look forward to reconnecting with Fr. Austin Vetter at the North American College, the seven fine seminarians from the Diocese of Bismarck currently studying in Rome, and other classmates and friends who either live or frequent the Eternal City,” he added.