By KATHY WEBER
For The Catholic Week
Deacon J. Douglas Sinchak was honored Sept. 25, 2018, at a surprise luncheon hosted by the Mobile Metropolitan Tribunal, where “Doug” has been a canonist and judge since 2008.
Judicial Vicar Msgr. James Kee honored Deacon Sinchak for his service to the people of Mobile through the tribunal and parish, while Deacon Ronnie Hathorne, director of the diaconate, thanked Deacon Sinchak for his invaluable help in diaconate formation.
Born in Bayou La Batre, Doug attended St. Margaret Catholic School and McGill Institute, where he graduated from in 1970. He then attended Loyola University in New Orleans, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in math and physics, as well as a fellowship to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he finished a master’s degree in mathematics in 1976. Doug was hired by the U.S. Department of Defense for his analytical skills. Doug lived in Laurel, Md., and attended St. Mary of the Mills Catholic Church. At some point during the 1980s Doug became interested in studying Thomas Aquinas and the Summa, which he did on Saturdays at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington.
On a government temporary assignment in Los Angeles to attend a two-month workshop, the idea of a possible religious vocation came to Doug. When he returned to Maryland, he spoke to his pastor and deacon. Knowing little about the diaconate to which he felt drawn, Doug spent a year reading and praying to discern if this was something he should pursue, before applying to enter diaconate training in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
Having successfully completed the training requirements, he was ordained for the Archdiocese of Washington on Sept. 25, 1993. Assigned to his home parish in Laurel, Doug helped with sacramental education in the parish and worked in a pro-life pregnancy center. It was during this time that Fr. James Kee was sent to Catholic University in Washington to study canon law.
He and Doug had met when Doug visited his sister at St. Pius X Parish in Mobile, and they became friends while Msgr. Kee assisted at St. Mary of the Mills on the weekends. It was Msgr. Kee who convinced Doug he should study canon law, so that, when he retired, he could come home to southern Alabama and work in the tribunal.
While still working, Doug began taking one class per semester in canon law. When he retired from the government in 1996, Doug then attended classes full time, earning a licentiate in canon law in July 2008. He began his work in the tribunal in September of that year and has worked there ever since. After two months of liturgical ministry in Grand Bay, Doug was assigned to St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Mobile, where he remains. Doug is now incardinated in the Archdiocese of Mobile. Besides his parish and tribunal work, Doug also assists in the deacon formation program; teaches a course in canon law to each class of deacons; gives occasional talks and assists the director on canonical issues when needed.
Doug is also devoted to his family. His sister Mary Jo lives in Mobile and his sister Kathy resides in Lafayette, La. Altogether, Doug has six nephews and nieces of whom he is rightly proud. Finally, Doug is involved behind the scenes in community theater, where he puts his woodworking and computer skills to good use.
By KATHY WEBER