CHARLESTON—For Mary McKenzie, serving in the Office of Tribunal was a constant learning experience.
She retired from her position as moderator of the Tribunal Chancery/collegiate judge in February, but said she’ll still work part-time serving as a canonical consultant.
“My love has always been the Tribunal, so I’m grateful I can continue in some supportive role there,” McKenzie said.
The Savannah native started in the office 30 years ago as a part-time secretary and quickly realized she had a knack — some would say a calling — for theology and canon law.
A parishioner of St. Joseph, she took the job out of curiosity on the advice of a fellow church member, and ended up working at the Tribunal under four bishops.
She was appointed ecclesiastical notary and procurator-advocate by Bishop Ernest L. Unterkoefler. Then, under Bishop David B. Thompson she was appointed defender of the bond, followed later by an appointment as a collegiate judge in the Province of Atlanta by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone.
Over those years, she was constantly studying on her own, taking courses and tapping into the knowledge of those around her.
“Tribunal work is so huge, there’s just always something to learn,” she said. “It’s a huge opportunity to have your faith grow.”
McKenzie said she has great appreciation for canon law because it’s based on the word of God, and knowing that all she studies comes from the teachings of Jesus made her faith that much stronger.
She praises the judicial vicars she has worked with, such as Msgr. Thomas X. Hofmann, who teaches catechism each week to the Tribunal staff.
“They end up guiding you spiritually as well as being your supervisor,” she said.
Semi-retirement doesn’t mean her quest for knowledge is retired.
McKenzie said she’d love to take some classes in her spare time; maybe figure out how to do home projects and fix things around her house.
She also plans to spend more time with her friends and family. McKenzie said she has sisters who live in Savannah, noting that they grew up on the Isle of Hope. Other family includes her three daughters and two grandchildren, who are in Virginia, Oregon and California.
“Oregon is especially beautiful. And the grandchildren are in Virginia, so that’s beautiful too,” she said with a smile.
For now, she is concentrating on taking care of her health by exercising and eating right, she said, with a particular fondness for yoga and swimming.
Valerie Maxineau was appointed as the new moderator of the Tribunal Chancery/collegiate judge. She is from Quebec and has a master’s degree in Canon Law.