Planning process prompts 100 letters appealing 12 of 14 mergers

| November 4, 2010 | 0 Comments

Twelve of the 14 mergers outlined in the archdiocesan strategic plan have been appealed by parishioners or parish representatives, said Jennifer Haselberger, chancellor for canonical affairs.

The two mergers that are not being appealed are St. Vincent de Paul merging with the Cathedral of St. Paul and St. Augustine merging with Holy Trinity, all in St. Paul.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Min­nea­polis received more than 100 written petitions for appeal between Oct. 18 and Oct. 27, the appeal deadline, Haselberger said. Accor­ding to canon law, Arch­bish­op John Nien­stedt must res­pond within 30 days of the appeal request.

Responses begin Nov. 18

“At this point, the archbishop has to begin responding by Nov. 18 be­cause of the time frame in which we received the appeals,” Hasel­ber­ger said.

“In some cases, groups have been very organized. So everybody that wanted to be involved in the appeal from one parish sent the same thing, in the same timeline,” she said. “That’s not true with everybody. In some cases, we’ve had different people from different parishes submit things.”

Although all the letters received will be con­­sidered, only one of three decisions will be made regarding any one merger: uphold the original de­ci­sion, amend it or withdraw it.

“I would assume, although I can’t say for sure, that in some cases [Archbishop Nienstedt] won’t withdraw the decision,” Has­el­berger said. “In that case, the parish would have the right to appeal to his hierarchical superior, which would be the Congregation for Clergy in Rome. That’s why the process is called hierarchical re­course, because it goes to the super­ior of the person who made the original decision.”

The decree and the strategic plan outline the entire appeal process for parishioners or parish representatives and give them access to the Code of Canon Law. An appeal to Rome must be submitted in writing within 15 days of the appeal decision by the archbishop or after expiration of the response period if no response is issued.

Some misunderstandings

“In a significant number of [ap­peal letters], there’s been a misunderstanding about what’s actually been decided” Haselberger said. “People will write in and say, ‘Don’t close our church,’ even though the decree has said that no decision has been made regarding closing church buildings.”

Each merged parish would decide when it’s no longer possible to main­tain a worship site, but those discussions have not been talked about or decided at this time, she said.

“When that does happen — if there is a decision taken to close a church building as opposed to merge a parish — that’s a separate process and people have the right to appeal that decision as well,” Has­el­berger said. “The appeal process that’s established by canon law lets individuals whose rights are impacted challenge any decision. So, the decision to close a church building could definitely be appealed.”

The Congregation for Clergy tries to respond in a “timely manner,” Haselberger added. But, sometimes addi­tional information is needed to make a “good and honest choice.”

Strategic plan mergers

» Annunciation receives Visitation, both in Minneapolis.
» St. Anthony of Padua receives Holy Cross, St. Clement and St. Hedwig, all in Minneapolis.
» St. Bridget receives St. Austin, both Minneapolis.
» Blessed Sacrament receives St. Thomas the Apostle and moves toward cluster with St. Pascal Baylon, all in St. Paul.
» St. Pascal Baylon receives St. John and moves toward cluster with Blessed Sacrament, all in St. Paul.
» Cathedral of St. Paul receives St. Vincent de Paul, both in St. Paul.
» Maternity of the Blessed Virgin receives St. Andrew and moves to collaboration with Holy Childhood, all in St. Paul.
» St. James receives St. Francis de Sales and moves to ­collaboration with St. Stanislaus, all in St. Paul.
» Holy Trinity receives St. Augustine, both in South St. Paul.
» St. Genevieve, Centerville, receives St. John the Baptist, Hugo.
» St. Wenceslaus, New Prague, receives St. John the Evangelist, Union Hill; St. Joseph, Lexington; St. Scholastica, Heidelberg; St. Thomas, St. Thomas.
» Holy Trinity, Goodhue, receives St. Columbkill, Belle Creek, and St. Mary, Bellechester.
» Our Lady of Grace, Edina, receives Most Holy Trinity, St. Louis Park.
» Most Holy Redeemer, Montgomery, receives St. Canice, Kilkenny, and clusters with St. Patrick, Shieldsville.

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Category: Archdiocese Planning Process