Earlier this month, Archbishop José H. Gomez named Father Leon Hutton, currently pastor of Our Lady of Assumption Church in Ventura, to help oversee the archdiocese’s Santa Barbara Pastoral Region. 

Father Hutton’s nomination as episcopal vicar was announced on Aug. 15. It means he will temporarily oversee some of the region’s administrative duties following the departure of Bishop Robert Barron, who was made bishop of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, this summer. 

The 68-year-old priest told Angelus that “to be named to be the episcopal vicar for the Santa Barbara region is a humbling responsibility and an honor to serve the Church in this capacity.”

Father Hutton also currently serves as regional dean for Deanery 3, which covers parishes in the Ventura-Santa Paula area. He is the third priest to serve as episcopal vicar for the Santa Barbara region in the absence of an auxiliary bishop since the archdiocese was organized into five pastoral regions under emeritus archbishop Cardinal Roger Mahony in 1986.

“As we await the appointment of a new auxiliary bishop by Pope Francis, it is my role to support the pastors, priests, and parishes in the mission of the Church,” Father Hutton told Angelus. “With the staff at the regional office, we will together do the work necessary for all the parishes in the region.”

Before coming to Our Lady of the Assumption in 2015, Father Hutton was on the staff of St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo as a professor and later as vice rector. He has also served in several parishes around the archdiocese and studied church history at the Catholic University of America. 

A noted church historian, he is the co-author of “Champion of the Church,” a 2006 biography of Archbishop John Noll, founder of the national Catholic newspaper “Our Sunday Visitor.”