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Canon Mike Kerouac joins parish as vicar

Canon Michael Kerouac’s quiet, kindly manner and thoughtful sermons have won him a whole parish full of friends since he arrived here five months ago to help take care of the parish while I was recovering from surgery.

To say I am grateful to Fr. Mike and his wife Carolyn greatly understates the case. Indeed, he has been such a great help that I asked him if he would mind formalizing the arrangement with the title of vicar. I am glad to say he accepted.

Fr. Mike, like Mr. Peter Threadgill, our Head Lay Reader and Liturgist, is a graduate of Dartmouth College, and before coming to St. Stephen’s he served as chaplain at a private school near Charlottesville, Virginia.

In secular life, Fr. Mike runs a company that connects psychiatrists to nursing homes by video conferencing. Carolyn works as his partner.

Fr. Mike’s appointment as vicar will ease Fr. Kelley’s workload. Fr. Kelley, who also has the title of canon, has long served as the Diocesan Ecumenical Officer—a role that necessitates a fair bit of travel outside the parish.

In addition to this, Bishop John Vaughan recently appointed him Dean of the Carolinas to oversee the parishes there. Fr. Rhae and his wife Molly have a second home in South Carolina—and this turned out to be a godsend for the bishop, who had been looking for a steady hand to oversee church’s work in the region for some time.

In addition to the deanship, Fr. Kelley’s appointment brings with it another title likely to languish for lack of use—that of “prebendary.”

This plethora of titles—vicar, canon, and prebendary— is probably a tad confusing and probably an explanation is in order:

  • A vicar is a representative, deputy or substitute; anyone acting “in the person of” or agent for a superior. While in England, the roles of a rector and a vicar are essentially the same, in America a vicar is generally a senior assistant.
  • A canon is a member of the chapter responsible for administering a cathedral, or who has been appointed by the bishop to undertake a specific task on his behalf.
  • St. Stephen’s serves as Bishop Vaughan’s “pro–cathedral”—a parish church that serves as the cathedral or co–cathedral of a diocese. Fr. Rhae was appointed a canon for his work as Ecumenical Officer, while Fr. Mike was made a canon upon his appointment as Diocesan Deployment Officer.

  • A prebendary is a type of canon who has a role in the administration of a cathedral or pro–cathedral. In England, a “prebend” is generally endowed with an income from the cathedral estates. By contrast, here at St. Stephen’s there are no estates and no endowments. The post is entirely honorary. GPH✠

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