Barb Roth

Barb Roth

Barbara Roth has served the Diocese of Harrisburg’s Tribunal office for 40 years. She has worn many hats during this time; secretary, office manager, case manager and advocate are all titles she has carried. But as of July 1, Roth can add another “hat” – chancellor.

“Last week, Bishop Gainer spoke to me to see if I would consider taking on this role,” Roth said. “After speaking with Dr. [Carol] Houghton, I said yes.”

Houghton has served as the Diocese’s chancellor for 29 years and retired from this position as of June 30.

Every diocese is required to have a chancellor, but the roles and responsibilities of this position vary based on the needs of the bishop.

“The chancellor is the notary to the bishop,” Roth said. “Their job is to make sure that the bishop’s papers are preserved.”

According to Roth, chancellors in the past have had additional duties, based on the needs of the bishop and the diocese.

“Dr. Houghton is a canon lawyer, but sometimes the chancellor hasn’t been,” Roth said. “There have been priests in this role. It can vary.”

Roth’s main focus will be to serve as the Diocesan Bishop’s notary and to safe guard his papers. This new role will be in addition to her responsibilities as Case Services Administrator and Advocate with the Tribunal. In these positions, Roth supervises all the administrative personnel for the Tribunal, but not the judicial personnel. As the Case Services Administrator, Roth assists with the case flow and works with both the administrative and judicial staffs to keep the case processes moving. Roth added that as an advocate, she assists people through the marriage annulment process in presenting their case.

“I’m humbled that Bishop Gainer would ask me. This role gives me another opportunity to serve and assist Bishop as our shepherd, to serve our priests and to serve the faithful of the Diocese,” said Roth.

“I’m looking forward to using my organizational skills and attention to detail, and to be another set of hands to help Bishop do his job,” Roth said. “He has a great team of people and I look forward to joining them.”

Even though her role may have changed, Roth added that she is no different than the other lay members of the Church.

“I’m just like them. I sit in the same pews. My job just happens to also be my faith,” she said.

Roth and her husband, Tim, live in the Harrisburg area. They have one daughter. When not working, Roth enjoys reading, hiking, sewing, photography and learning the game of Pool.

To learn more about the duties of the Diocesan Chancellor, visit More information on the Tribunal can be found at

By Rachel Bryson, M.S., The Catholic Witness