New director of Tribunal to handle administration
By Lori Wood Habiger
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY - Sister of Charity of Leavenworth Virginia Bartolac has been hired as director of the Tribunal. She will take over the day-to-day administration of the office, freeing Father Mike Coleman, the Tribunal's Judicial Vicar, to spend more time researching questions of Canon Law, and maintaining the Diocesan archives.
Sister Virginia Bartolac, SCL
The Tribunal deals primarily with the sacramental validity of marriage, granting or denying annulments. Last year, Father Coleman said, the Diocesan Tribunal processed about 600 cases.
As director, "Sister Virginia's job will be to ensure the cases move through the annulment process in a timely fashion," Father Coleman said.
Sister Bartolac earned a doctorate in Canon law from the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., and earned a master's degree in theology from St. Louis University, St. Louis.
She is currently employed by the 29th District Court (Wyandotte County area) as a full-time court services officer. She provides case management and mediation services to families involved with the court in the area of child custody.
She also serves as a judge for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas' Metropolitan Appeal Tribunal, and for the Missouri Ecclesiastical Appellate Court, St. Louis.
Sister Bartolac has previously worked for the Tribunal in the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese. In 1982 and 1983 she served as a Tribunal intern, where, she said, "I saw the pastoral effect" of working with annulment cases.
She said she was pleased to be returning, because, "That group in the Tribunal has always been a strong supporter of mine, and I feel very comfortable with their pastoral approach."
"We act like a bridge," she said, "in facilitating the investigations of marriage cases. The word 'annulment' can be so negating. But we are there to listen - that's so important. We need to value and inform the parties in the cases because there is a lot of misinformation out there" about annulments.
She said one of her first goals for the Tribunal, in fact, was to design a public relations and community education campaign that would inform Catholics in the Diocese about the work of the Tribunal and correct some of that "misinformation." She hopes a community education campaign can help the Tribunal "become a ministerial presence in the Diocese."