By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA – Cardinal Justin Rigali has appointed Father Kevin C. Lawrence, 51, regional vicar for Philadelphia-South. Father Lawrence is pastor of St. Malachy Parish in North Philadelphia.

The appointment became effective Monday, July 6. Father Lawrence will continue his duties as pastor.

He said he was surprised and humbled by the appointment. “I am certainly grateful to the Cardinal for his confidence in me,” Father Lawrence said.

He succeeds as regional vicar Msgr. Daniel J. Sullivan, who on July 6 became the archdiocesan Vicar for Clergy. “I certainly appreciate all the work Msgr. Sullivan has done and look forward to learning a lot from him,” he said.

Father Lawrence is no stranger to the Philadelphia-South vicariate. Although St. Malachy is in North Philadelphia, its boundaries place the parish in the Philadelphia-South vicariate.

That is one of several ties he has to the vicariate.

His first assignment, from 1987 to 1988, was parochial vicar of St. Barnabas Parish in Southwest Philadelphia.

From 1993 to 1994 he served as parochial vicar of St. Martin de Porres Parish in North Philadelphia, also situated in the Philadelphia-South vicariate, and from 1994 to 1995 as parochial vicar of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in the Pennsport section of South Philadelphia.

For nearly a decade, he worked in special ministry to the homeless at St. John’s Hospice for Men in Center City, also situated in the Philadelphia-South vicariate, eventually serving as director.

Father Lawrence said he appreciates the faith of the city’s Catholics. “There’s a wonderful familiarity” among them, as well as “a candidness and grounded spirituality that comes out in their daily lives. I certainly enjoy that and have learned so much from it.”

And he is happy he will be continuing as pastor of St. Malachy, where he has served as pastor since June 2008. He commends his parishioners’ outreach to the poor and advocacy for peace and justice. “It’s been a great year for me,” he said.

“One of my special joys in priesthood is to serve in a parish,” Father Lawrence continued. “That’s what I really love and really enjoy. I hope that I can expand that which I love about parish ministry into the ministry of a vicar,” in being present to the pastors, priests and parishioners, he said.

Father Lawrence is the fourth of five children of Mary C. (nee Brady) and the late Francis J. Lawrence. A native of Norristown, he was raised in St. Patrick Parish, where his mother remains a parishioner.

He graduated from St. Patrick School in Norristown in 1972 and from Bishop Kenrick High School, also in Norristown, in 1976.

After completing studies at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, he was ordained May 16, 1987, at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul by Auxiliary Bishop John J. Graham.

Assignments have also included parochial vicar at St. Gabriel Parish in Norwood, Delaware County, from 1988 to 1993.

After two years working part-time on staff in special ministry to the homeless at St. John’s Hospice, he served full-time on staff there, from 1995 through 1998, when he was named director, a post he served for five years.

“I love working with the poor,” Father Lawrence said. “They have a tremendous capacity to teach us about ourselves, our dependency on God and the need for our great faith and trust in spanine Providence. I loved the years there.”

Father Lawrence served as pastor of St. Timothy Parish in the Lower Mayfair section of Philadelphia, in the Philadelphia-North vicariate, from 2003 to 2008, at which time he was named pastor of St. Malachy.

He also serves as a spiritual director for seminarians at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or