Canon lawyer enjoys ‘detective work’ of his ministry

by Kara Hansen

Kansas City, Kan. — It may be his first time living on American soil, but Father Joseph Arsenault, SSA, is feeling right at home in the archdiocese.

“I’m delighted to be here and I have felt very welcomed and affirmed by both the clergy and the laypeople I have met,” said Father Joseph. “I’m looking forward to being a part of a great archdiocese.”

Father Joseph was appointed to the tribunal office, which handles annulments, this past March.

Father Joseph belongs to the Society of St. Augustine, a religious order that has been active in the archdiocese since 1997. Father Joseph was ordained a priest in 2000.

“I was drawn to the charism of Augustinians,” he said. “I like that we come together in community through prayer and recollection and are empowered to go forward in service to the church. There’s a strong sense of community and family there that’s very important in the world today.”

A native of Igonish Beach, Nova Scotia, Canada, this is Father Joseph’s first time residing in the United States. Prior to his current position in the office of canonical services, Father Joseph was working for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in Ottawa, Canada. He still does some work for that bishops’ conference, in addition to his  work in the archdiocese.
“When I was coming to the archdiocese, Archbishop Naumann looked at my background and felt I could be of help there [in the tribunal office],” said Father Joseph.

Father Joseph is putting his licentiate in canon law to use in the tribunal office. He can often be found reviewing and rewriting documents pertaining to canon law and offering his opinion on such matters as requested.

“I like figuring things out and doing the detective work involved,” said Father Joseph. “I like trying to figure out through the law how to best resolve the situation, as well as being of service to the church and the people, so the mission of God can be made manifest.”

One of the parts of his work Father Joseph most enjoys is acting as a canonical advisor to new religious communities.
“NET (National Evangelization Teams) Ministries was in Ottawa at the time, and the group of ministers invited me over for dinner,” he said. “As we got to talking, it came up that some of the ministers had just been to a meeting with chancery staff about starting a new religious order, and they were in need of a canon lawyer. I’ve been working with them ever since.”
When not in the office, Father      Joseph can be seen helping out at parishes across the archdiocese, but particularly at St. Mary-St. Anthony and Holy Family parishes in Kansas City, Kan.

“I enjoy being in contact with people and that’s really important to me,” said Father Joseph. “There’s been a great sense of welcoming here. The people I’ve met and come to know have been wonderful. There’s a real sense of prayerfulness in the life of the people of this archdiocese that I’ve not experienced many other places.”

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