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Vocabulary Definitions!

Words and terms and phrases associated with the Episcopate (there’s one right there), that is with things dealing with Bishops.

Coadjutor — (Pronounced ko-ad-jewter, and not coagitator!) one elected at a Diocesan Convention (usually) for the express purpose to replace the Ordinary when he or she retires, or dies in office, or becomes otherwise incapacitated (which is the Standing Committee’s decision). While waiting, the Coadjutor simply acts as an assisting bishop at the direction of the Ordinary. There have been many occasions in the life of dioceses where the Ordinary out-lived the Coadjutor.

Ordinary — the head bishop of a diocese, elected for that purpose.

Suffragan — one elected at a Diocesan Convention as an assisting bishop to the Ordinary. The Suffragan, elected to assist, may not become the Ordinary without also being elected to that office.

The old joke to illustrate the differences goes like this:
Each morning the Bishop Suffragan comes into the Bishop Ordinary’s office and greets him by saying, “Good morning, my lord. How may I serve you today?”
And each morning the Bishop Coadjutor comes into the Bishop Ordinary’s office and greets him or her by saying, “Good morning, my lord. How are you feeling today?”

Assistant Bishop — in contemporary usage, the Assistant Bishop is one who is Already a bishop and has been hired by the Ordinary, without benefit of election. Often, Assistant or Assisting Bishops are retired bishops hailing from elsewhere, and who then work on a part-time basis. Otherwise, Assistant Bishops are those hired to work full-time, usually in dioceses that have more congregations than the Ordinary can reasonably minister to Pastorally.

Crozier — (Pronounced crow-sher) the staff that the bishop walks with and holds at certain sacramental and liturgical pastoral moments as a symbol of office. It is intended to represent the staff of the Good Shepherd, and thus of the diocese’s Chief Shepherd, the bishop.

Mitre — (Pronounced my-ter) the pointy hat the bishop wears. It has a dual representation as a crown for a prince of the Church, and as a representation of the cloven tongues of fire that rested upon the heads of the disciples on Pentecost.


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