Updated: Nov 1, 2022
Diocese’s new Chancellor juggles family, faith, two jobs
The following story appeared in the October 21 Idaho Catholic Register.
Bryan and Katie Taylor with their children, Lucy and Matthew, at their home parish, Our Lady of the Valley in Caldwell. Taylor recently began duties as Chancellor for the Diocese. (Courtesy photo/Taylor family)
By Gene Fadness
Bryan Taylor is used to being on the go.
He’s got academic degrees from six universities. He considered priesthood, but then pursued law. Even though priesthood did not happen, his love for his faith led to degrees in philosophy and in canon law.
He’s on the go almost daily from Caldwell to Boise, juggling two jobs as the elected prosecutor for Canyon County and recently named the Chancellor for the Diocese of Boise.
It was the birth of his son that stopped this aggressive and energetic personality in his tracks and brought all of life’s activity to a near standstill.
“After holding him for literally six seconds, enough time to give him a kiss on the forehead, he was whisked away and intubated by the medical staff,” Taylor writes
in the forward of his book, “The Imitation of Christ: A Parable of Grayson and Matthew.”
What followed was three months in the neonatal intensive care unit and a series of surgeries to repair a rare birth defect called a “congenital diaphragmatic hernia.”
“He doesn’t have a diaphragm, which keeps the internal organs separated from the lungs,” Taylor said. “When he was born his stomach was up by his left lung. The physician had to take all those organs that should be lower and push them down and insert a medical-grade cortex.”
Doctors told Taylor and his wife, Katie, about Matthew’s condition before he was born. They said his chances of survival were slim and recommended an abortion. “So we switched hospitals,” Taylor said.
The day he was to be born, Taylor went down to the chapel at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center to pray for about the faith and I need the accountability that school, career and family life do for me. If someone tells me this is a book you need to read or research, I’m on it.”
He was able to take nearly all the courses remotely and, after four years of study, earned the degree in 2016. Finishing when he did proved to be providential because it was shortly after earning that degree that Matthew was born.
He was named Matthew for a reason, Taylor notes. The name means “gift of God.” His health challenges over the next year were “stressful and exhausting, but it did bring us closer together as a family and that’s a gift.”
During those months, Taylor spent hours at the NICU reading Thomas
á Kempis’ classic, “The Imitation of Christ.” He had recommended the book to a Methodist friend while the two were on a retreat at Mount Angel Abbey. His friend, Michael Kroth, had an infant grandson, Grayson, who was receiving treatment in faraway Pittsburgh for a rare, often fatal disease called Krabbe Leukodystrophy, which limits any movement in the extremities. Grayson continues to survive.
Taylor and Korth decided to collaborate on a book modeled after “The Imitation of Christ.”
“Our hope was to try to bring ‘Imitation’ into the 21st century, with our own modern-day parable that we hope will inspire our readers to go back and read the original and follow the seven steps that Kempis wants us to follow.” The book is available on Amazon.
MATTHEW’S RECOVERY took about a year and it wasn’t long after that that the idea of canon law came up again.
Taylor had befriended Bob McQuade, also an elected county official who was a devout Catholic. McQuade, retiring this year as the county assessor for Ada County, is a parishioner at St. Mary’s Parish. Taylor told McQuade that he was considering the diaconate. The two joined Bishop Peter for lunch. Taylor told the Bishop that he was considering the diaconate, but also looking at canon law. Bishop Peter, somewhat jokingly, but perhaps knowing Taylor’s compulsion to be busy, told him he should do both. “Which do you want me to do first?” Taylor asked. The Bishop indicated there was a need in the diocese for more canon lawyers.
Thus began another four years of study for a master’s of canon law from the University of Ottawa and a Licentiate (license) in Canon Law from St. Paul’s University, also in Ottawa.
Finishing his studies last May, his intent was to provide assistance to the four other active canon lawyers in the Diocese at the time – Mark Raper, Father Joe McDonald, Father Gerald Funke and Father Francisco Godinez. “Then Mark (Raper) decided to retire and Bishop approached me about helping out. Since I don’t have school, I can balance the two jobs and provide the assistance for the diocese and my Church.”
Among several priorities is recruiting more volunteers to work as advocates for
marriage cases. A training for those thinking about helping those who are seeking annulments is planned for Nov. 9 at the Diocese.
Taylor’s office is also ultimately responsible for handling any cases dealing with misconduct by clerics or any Church employee.
One of the reasons Bishop Peter encouraged him to pursue a canon law degree was Taylor’s experience working with the sex crimes unit in Canyon County. In 2018, Taylor was asked to join the Diocese’s lay review board that investigates allegations of abuse.
“I have seen the worst of society, day in and day out,” he said. “What one human being does to another human being especially when that human being is their own flesh and blood is hard to comprehend at times.”
He’s encouraged, however, by the rapid progress the Church has made in handling abuse allegations since the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was adopted in 2004. There continues to be a sharp decline in the number of allegations reported. For instance, the most recent national report, issued in March of this year, identified 30 new allegations of abuse nationwide involving minors, with six of those substantiated. Every case was reported to law enforcement.
During 2021, the Church in the United States conducted 1,964,656 background checks on clergy, employees and volunteers. In addition, over 2 million adults and over 2.4 million children and youth were trained in how to identify the warning signs of abuse and how to report those signs.
The Diocese of Boise fared well in the audit, Taylor said, which is conducted by an agency independent of the Church. “We were in compliance and doing many of the extra things they are recommending,” he said. “In fact, a lot of churches are now looking to us as to how to do this, which is a positive step. I think Bishop Peter’s vision and the way we have responded has been phenomenal, but, of course, we can always improve.”
His job as a county prosecutor exposes him to the worst of humanity. “I’ve prosecuted Mormon bishops, pastors in Presbyterian and Nazarene churches, Boy Scouts and teachers. It doesn’t matter what their status is, I’ve prosecuted them all so nothing really shocks me anymore.”
His faith and his loved ones get him through challenging times. “I have a strong faith and a very supportive family. You have to find outlets, and my primary outlet is travel. I love to travel even if it’s only to get away for a couple of days.”
When those two days might be is anyone’s guess.
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