Divina Miseratione et Apostolicæ Sedis Gratia
Merger of Saint John the Evangelist Parish in East Lansing, Michigan and Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish, East Lansing; Establishment of Saint John Student Oratory, East Lansing, Michigan; Attachment of Saint John Student Oratory to Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish in East Lansing, Michigan
Saint John the Evangelist Parish (also known as Saint John Student Parish) has served the students, faculty, staff and alumni faithful as a personal / territorial parish on the south side of East Lansing, Michigan since its erection on December 24, 1957. Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish, served the Catholic faithful in East Lansing and surrounding communities since 1940. During that time, many people have heard the Word of God, have worshiped and have received the sacraments of the Church in their respective parish communities. Now, in an effort to strengthen the preaching of the Gospel and to ensure the vitality of parish life, with concern for the best stewardship of resources and the right of the People of God to receive assistance from the Church, especially the Word of God, spiritual sustenance and the sacraments, it is necessary to make new provisions for the spiritual care of the parishioners of these parishes.
To that end, having asked parishioners to make known their needs and desires, having received the recommendations of the Diocesan Coordinating Commission: Planning Tomorrow’s Churches, under the careful direction of the Office of Pastoral Planning, which reviewed the recommendations of the parishes involved and the Lansing Regional report, and having consulted the Presbyteral Council, and listened to the College of Consultors, the Council of Vicars, received reports from the Diocesan Pastoral Council and the Diocesan Finance Council, and in accord with canons 120, §1; 121; and 515, §§2-3 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, I, the undersigned, in virtue of my authority as Bishop of Lansing, hereby decree:
- That Saint John the Evangelist Parish, East Lansing, Michigan, be merged (unio extinctiva) with St Thomas Aquinas Parish, East Lansing. Saint John the Evangelist Church building and parish complex will remain and its administration will consequently be transferred to the Pastor of Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish, effective at midnight at the end of Tuesday, June 30, 2009.
- That Saint John the Evangelist Church edifice be established as an Oratory, according to the provisions of canons 1223 – 1225. It shall more commonly be known as Saint John Student Center.
- That Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish assume the administration of Saint John the Evangelist Oratory and adjoining complex, making suitable provision for the faithful formerly of Saint John the Evangelist Parish, providing for their pastoral care and meeting their pastoral needs. The consolidated and unified parish shall include the membership of the present Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish and the membership of the former Saint John the Evangelist Parish, to the extent that the parishioners of the former Saint John the Evangelist Parish wish to affiliate. The current Saint Thomas Aquinas Church edifice shall be the place of worship of the parish community, with provision made for Sunday / weekday Masses and liturgical rites at Saint John the Evangelist Oratory to meet the pastoral needs of the students, faculty and staff of Michigan State University. The new boundaries of Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish shall incorporate and annex any territory included in the former Saint John the Evangelist Parish.
- That Father Mark Inglot, the current pastor of Saint John the Evangelist Parish, will be named as pastor of the consolidated parishes. He is to foster the pastoral care of the Catholic faithful entrusted to him, bearing in mind the provision of canon 519.
This decision is based upon a number of factors, among which are the reasonable proximity of the worship communities and the churches, the desire to avoid duplication of services and the increasing expenses associated with necessary repairs and maintenance to aging structures, the spiritual welfare of the parish communities, the spread of the Gospel, the promotion of unity among the People of God, the enhancement of collaborative ministry and the better utilization of available priest personnel. In light of the challenge of the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II, in his Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, this decision is taken to strengthen “the proclamation of Christ to reach people, mould communities, and have a deep and incisive influence in bringing Gospel values to bear in society and culture.” (n. 29)
Before July 1, 2009, the parish registers of the former Saint John the Evangelist Parish containing the records of baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, marriage and deaths, along with parish records and historical documents, are to be forwarded to Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish. They will be faithfully preserved and maintained in accord with canon 535, §§1-5. Any registers, records and historical documents not needed for continued administration of Saint John the Evangelist Oratory and adjoining complex are to be forwarded to the Diocesan Archives. According to the norm of canon 121, all assets and liabilities, whether movable or immovable, of the former Saint John the Evangelist Parish, will become the assets and liabilities of the juridic person of Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish. Furthermore, ownership of all ecclesiastical goods and all objects of artistic or historical value belonging to Saint John the Evangelist Parish will be transferred to Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish and will be administered in accordance with the prescriptions of Church law.
The effect of the merger (unio extinctiva) of Saint John the Evangelist Parish and Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish is the termination and extinguishing of the juridic personality of the former Saint John the Evangelist Parish, which it now possesses by law. Thus, it will no longer be a subject of obligations and rights in canon law corresponding to its nature as a juridic person, nor will it be capable of acquiring, retaining, administering, or alienating temporal goods in accord with the norm of law.
I direct that this decree be given to the pastoral leadership of Saint John the Evangelist Parish and Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish, and that its contents, especially the dispositive part of this decree, be communicated to parishioners on the weekend of June 6 – June 7, 2009. The “Process to Initiate Recourse against an Administrative Decree” is to be made available as necessary. Furthermore, I direct that this decree be published on the website of the Diocese of Lansing (www.dioceseoflansing.org). This publication will be presumed to be the official notification of this action.
Anything to the contrary notwithstanding.
Given at the Curia of the Diocese of Lansing on this the 8th day of May, in the year of our Lord, 2009.