Father Robert J. Hospodar has been named judicial vicar of the Metropolitan Tribunal, which he has served since 2009 as promoter of justice, the Cardinal’s Office has announced. The appointment became effective June 15.
“I was taken by surprise,” Father Hospodar told CNY of his appointment. “I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve in this capacity.”
The Metropolitan Tribunal is the ecclesiastical court of the Archdiocese of New York. Although most cases brought before the Tribunal involve questions of marital nullity, the court also acts as the competent forum for other issues, including penal matters.
Father Hospodar first served the Metropolitan Tribunal as defender of the bond dating back to the early 1990s.
Father Hospodar, a priest of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy (diocese) of Passaic, N.J., received permission from the eparchy to accept the position of judicial vicar.
He served as pastor of St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church in Manhattan, 1998-2018, and St. Nicholas of Myra Byzantine Catholic Church in White Plains, 1991-1998.
Born in Hazelton, Pa., he was ordained for the priesthood in 1978. He holds a licentiate and doctorate in canon law from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Father Hospodar succeeded Father Richard L. Welch, C.Ss.R. “He inspired you to maintain a level of quality and go even further the next time,” said Father Hospodar of Father Welch.
“Every day I’d see more and more he was so invested and proud of the work being done in the Tribunal. He loved to gather people involved in a case. He created a sense of team. It went from team to family.”
Father Welch told CNY that Father Hospodar is well prepared to do “a great job” as judicial vicar.
“He’s very intelligent, and very pastoral in his approach,” Father Welch said. Father Welch had served as judicial vicar since 2012 and as a judge since 2001. Father Welch has been named an official with the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, a position he will begin July 20.
Father Welch, speaking of his 19 years at the Metropolitan Tribunal, said, “I enjoyed and loved every minute of it. The Tribunal is well known for its excellence and efficiency.
“It’s been an honor for me to work with Cardinal Dolan,” Father Welch said. “He certainly does care for his people.”
Father Welch noted that his own religious life as a Redemptorist priest since 1980 and experience as a canon lawyer should prove valuable in his new assignment. “It’s a challenge, and I’m looking forward to it,” Father Welch said.