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Archdiocese of Chicago Appoints Deacon James Norman as the Vicar for Deacons

The former Kraft Foods executive will lead the world’s largest Catholic diaconate. Norman’s appointment is effective July 1.

Chicago - (June 2, 2022) – The Archdiocese of Chicago today announced the appointment of Deacon James Norman as Vicar for Deacons. In this role, Norman will be responsible for the overall organization and administration of the archdiocese’s diaconate, the largest Catholic diaconate in the world with 514 active deacons involved in 210 parishes and agencies. He is currently the director of Vicariate VI operations and will continue to support Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Perry until a replacement has been named. Norman was ordained as a deacon in 2013 and serves at Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica in Chicago.

“It is with joy that I announce the appointment of Deacon James Norman as the Vicar for Deacons,” said Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago. “Deacon Norman was born and raised on Chicago’s West Side and is a product of our Catholic schools. His ministry has been bringing the needs of the community to the Church, helping the underserved, being a spiritual advisor to the Faithful and supporting pastors. I look forward to collaborating with Deacon Norman in his new role.”

The Vicar for Deacons supports the personal, spiritual and ministerial growth of the men and women of the archdiocese’s diaconate community which encompasses the deacons of the Archdiocese of Chicago, deacons incardinated in other dioceses but ministering within this archdiocese, their wives and families, and the wives of deceased deacons. He also serves as a consultant to the auxiliary bishops, deans, and to the parishes and institutions of the archdiocese in matters pertaining to diaconate ministry. In addition, he assesses church ministry personnel needs of parishes, agencies and other institutions within the archdiocese that may benefit from deacons and their ministry. The Vicar for Deacons reports to Cardinal Cupich and to Auxiliary Bishop Robert Casey, vicar general of the archdiocese.

Norman spent more than three decades of his career as a human resources executive. He has consulted with organizations seeking innovative and inclusive culture change. He began his career in manufacturing and operations management with Kraft Foods in 1980. In 1986, he transitioned into human resources management, where he held numerous positions within Oscar Mayer and Louis Rich manufacturing facilities in California, Wisconsin and Texas.

He then worked as an associate director in human resource generalist assignments with the Kraft Pizza Company and the Kraft Foods Research & Development Group in Glenview.

He was promoted to the position of director of diversity for Kraft Foods North America in January 2001 and in May 2004, he was appointed to the position of senior director of human resources for Kraft Foods Snacks & Cereal Business Unit in East Hanover, NJ. In March 2008, Norman was appointed vice president of diversity for Kraft Foods, Inc. and in 2012, with the launch of the new Kraft Foods Group, Norman was appointed vice president of diversity and community involvement where he increased Kraft Foods’ external recognition on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies from unlisted in 2009 to #7 in 2012.

Under his leadership, Kraft Foods was continually listed on the Working Mother Top 100 Companies For Working Mothers and LatinaStyle Top 50 Companies for Latinas. Also under his direction, Kraft Foods received external recognition for development of women executives and for its innovative diversity and inclusion training curriculum. He retired from Kraft Foods in 2013.


Norman received his Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Northwestern University. 

“I’m humbled by the opportunity to serve, the men and women of the diaconate community,” said Norman. “I am grateful to God and relying on the Holy Spirit to equip me for the task.”

Norman succeeds Deacon Richard Hudzik who is retiring and will move to a newly-created role of director of ongoing formation. This part-time position will report to the vicar and be responsible for designing and supervising the continuing education for all deacons. Hudzik has served as the Vicar for Deacons since July 2012. He was the director of the Cardinal Stritch Retreat House (now known as Joseph and Mary Retreat House) from 2005 to 2012. Ordained in 1998, Hudzik’s current parish assignment is Mary, Mother of Divine Grace in Westchester. He previously ministered at St. Maria Goretti in Schiller Park and Church of St. Mary in Lake Forest.

During his 10 years as Vicar for Deacons, Hudzik modernized the diaconate by transitioning its communications to digital platforms including the creation of a weekly newsletter, coursework and YouTube channel. He accompanied clergy and parishes through Renew My Church structural changes by supporting pastors and parish leaders in creating strong unified parishes, helping those in transition and assisting new parishes in establishing sustainable operational foundations and resources upon which ministry and service can be built. Hudzik has also been a strong supporter of diversity in the diaconate through the various secular professions of the men and their broad ethnic diversity including Hispanic, Black, Polish, Filipino and Vietnamese deacons. 

Deacons assist (arch)bishops and priests in ministries of the Word, Liturgy and Charity. This includes proclaiming the Gospel, leading intercessions, preaching, preparing the altar, celebrating baptisms, leading the faithful in prayer, distributing holy communion, witnessing marriages and conducting wake and funeral services. Deacons also identify the needs of poor and underserved, and shepherd the Church's resources to meet those needs. 

Diaconate formation for permanent deacons requires completion of a comprehensive and intensive program through the Institute for Diaconal Studies or the Instituto de Liderazgo Pastoral, for Spanish speakers, both located at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in Mundelein. The programs include human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral dimensions of formation and a year-long parish pastoral ministry internship. The program is mandated by both the Vatican and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  

Since 1972, the archdiocese has ordained 1,464 men as permanent deacons. Active, retired and inactive deacons total 706, while another 70 Chicago deacons serve in dioceses around the country – from Florida to California.