Newspaper Archive of
Arkansas Catholic
Little Rock, Arkansas
November 26, 1982     Arkansas Catholic
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November 26, 1982

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PAGE 8 THE GUARDIAN, NOVEMBER 26, 1982 Fr. Royce Thomas Rarely Gets Rest In Busy Schedule By Karl Christ Little Rock -- Father Royce R. Thomas, chancellor of the Diocese of Little Rock, was asked the duties of his office while scheduling an interview and he replied, "Everything nobody else does." And this pretty well sums up the duties of this 38-year-old priest who is on the go con- stantly. Here's a list of them: Chancellor (third highest office in the diocese, first being Bishop and second Vicar-General), rector of the Cathedral of St. Andrew, Vicar of Clergy Personnel, Canon Law consultant, vice- officialis of the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal, chaplain of the Arkansas National Guard and chairman of His Excellency Bishop Andrew J. McDonald's Special Projects Drive. Born July 5, 1944, in Laredo, Texas, Father Thomas is the oldest of 10 children. He grew up in Texarkana, Ark., where he attended St. Edward's Grade and High School. He then attended Texarkana College before going to St. John's Seminary here. Next going to North American College and Gregorian University in Rome, he was or- dained Dec. 19, 1969, in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Returning to Little Rock, he was a member of the faculty of Catholic High School where he taught Social Studies, Religion and was secretary of the athletic program from 1970- 75. At the same time, h e taught Religion at Mount St. Mary's Academy, was in charge of the Apostolate to the Handicapped, state chaplain of the Arkansas Association for Retarded Children and took graduate work in History at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. From 1975-77, he obtained a licentiate in Canon Law at the Catholic University of America at Washington, D.C., and worked with the Chicago Tribunal for two months. In 1977, he was appointed Vice-Chancellor and Vice Officialis of the Marriage Tribunal and was named Chancellor in 1979. He was named rector at the Cathedral in 1981, having served both at the Cathedral and at Our Lady of Good Counsel parish. Also in 1981, he was named Vicar of Clergy Personnel. And here's some other posts he holds: Secretary of the Priests Senate, chairman of the Clergy Welfare Board and a member of the Board of St. John's Endowment Fund. In 1974, he became a member of the Canon Law Society of America and the Canadian Canon Law Society. After working on a study on diocesan taxation in the United States, Father Thomas, noted for his dry wit, was named to the faculty of Seminars on the Revised Canon Code this past summer and is a member of the CLSA Board of Governors. And in addition to all these posts, he has been chairman of the Bishop's Special Project Drive for the past three years. One of Father Thomas' main jobs as Chancellor is keeping records such as bap- tisms, deanery meetings, matrimonial dispensations and the like. "All of these papers go through my office," he said. He also keeps track of marriages. "The Bishop installed a new policy last year," he said, "whereby couples wishing to get married must notify their pastor four months before the wedding date so they can take instructions. Before, they would come in at the last minute." Of his post in the Marriage Tribunal, he said with a wry smile, "Business is booming. We've already done 200 cases of persons seeking annulments this year and we have another 40 waiting." He explained that the Board consisted of Msgr. Paul R. Coyle, Officialis, and two other members. Asked about the numbers of annulments granted, he estimated 70 to 75 per cent of those who apply obtain one. Father Thomas said the main reasons for annulments are imi=naturity, alcoholism, insufficient deliberation before the marriage and psychological problems. "There aren't any specific age groups, either," he added. "People of all ages apply for annulments." Father Thomas is the Bishop's represen- tative on the Clergy Personnel and Clergy Welfare Boards. In this capacity, he also serves on the priest-deacon committee, the Diocesan Financial Board and the Diocesan Building Committee. He is very active in the CLSA and is on the committee arranging regional and national conventions. The committee also studies rulings from Rome and brings them back to their dioceses. He also is a member of the faculty on the revised Canon Law now being studied by Pope John Paul II. Asked about the new law, he said, "There are some changes being considered. However, it won't change too much." His duties at the Cathedral consist of of- fering the daily 12:05 P.M. Masses and the 5 FATHER ROYCE R. THOMAS is discussing some of his many with secretaries Hester Woodbury (left) and Mary Mattingly. P.M. Mass on Saturday and 5:30 P.M. Mass on Sunday. "A lot of businessmen usually come to the noon Mass," he said. "I offer it in the Cathedral itself except for Saturday, when I have it in the small chapel dedicated in honor of Bishop Fletcher." He added that a lot of weddings are held in the Cathedral. "And my current project is to get storm windows," he added with a smile. "We need a number of improvements," he continued. Then Father Thomas added a little-known face, "A number of retired priests are living at the rectory. You might say it is a sort of rest home." Being chaplain of the Arkansas National Guard requires him being with the group one weekend a month and for two weeks during the summer when the Guard is in training. And two more positions not mentioned before -- he is chaplain of the Arkansas State Mental Hospital and Worthy Friar of the Knights of Columbus Bishop Andrew Byrne: t Main, Russellville, t HUMPHREY FUNERAL SERVICE, INC. PHONE 968-4411 WOESTMAN BARBER SHOP 309 West Main St. AIR CONDITIONED Russellville Ed Woestman Proprietor Peoples MEN'S SHOES: Assembly No. 0024. Bank . 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