Decree Relegating Saint Michael in Flint, Michigan To Profane but Not Sordid Use

The former Saint Michael Parish, Flint, was merged (unio extinctiva) with Saint John Vianney Parish, Flint, by means of a decree of October 10th, 2017, according to the norms of law. This decree established its sacred edifice as an auxiliary place of divine worship for Saint John Vianney Parish and recognized the retention of its title. By virtue of canon 1214, this edifice possesses the character of a church.

However, grave causes now suggest that it be relegated to profane but not sordid use in accord with canon 1222 §2.

A letter of resolution, dated October 13, 2020, has been received from the Reverend Pastor and the finance council of Saint John Vianney Parish, Flint, serving to request that Saint Michael Church, belonging to this parish, be relegated to profane but not sordid use. This petition expressed a number of reasons whose existence has been verified after examination. To wit:

Built as a church with a seating capacity of one thousand, the total number of those attending Mass at Saint Michael has now fallen to under sixty.  After reviewing the financial condition that Saint John Vianney Parish faced following the merger, its Pastor and the parish finance council apprised me that Saint Michael brought an annual debt in excess of one hundred and twenty five thousand dollars to Saint John Vianney Parish, and the parish could not generate sufficient revenue to repay it. Moreover, as the pastor informed the parishioners, Saint Michael Church requires repairs and upgrades costing more than $1,500,000. This burden of debt impedes the ministry of Saint John Vianney Parish and foreseeably endangers its financial stability. Moreover, this condition destabilizes the long-term sustainability of the parish school, the only remaining Catholic elementary school within the boundaries of the City of Flint, an essential mission within this city which has already undergone significant losses in population, economic hardship, and serious threats to public safety due to its water crisis. 

Indeed, it is neither necessary nor feasible to maintain the edifice as a separate place of sacred worship. These are provided for at the site of Saint John Vianney Parish itself as well as the neighboring Saint Matthew Parish, Flint. Since Saint Michael Church and the parish church of Saint John Vianney are separated by a short distance (1.6 miles), and Saint Matthew Parish lies an eighth of a mile (0.8 mile) away, no hindrance to divine worship or pastoral service would befall the faithful by the closure of Saint Michael Church. To the contrary, consolidating sacred worship as well as pastoral and apostolic efforts strengthens the ministry of the Church in Flint, and restrains the undue multiplication of priestly duties.

An inquiry with the pastor and the diocesan finance officer has failed to disclose any persons whose rights would be injured by a decree of relegation (canon 50).
To the reasons above must be added a consideration of the good of the diocese, the better utilization of the decreasing number of priests, and the desire to promote the unity of the parish. The availability of this edifice under the auspices of Catholic Charities is an apt development.

Now, these various reasons having been evaluated with due consideration of the canons and the letter to ordinaries from the Congregation for the Clergy, Procedural Guidelines for the Modification of Parishes, the Closure or Relegation of Churches to Profane but not Sordid Use, and the Alienation of the Same (April 30, 2013), cumulatively taken, these present a grave reason to relegate the church to profane but not sordid use (cf can. 1222 §2).

In satisfaction of canon 1222 §2 and attentive to canons 127 and 166, the Presbyteral Council was informed of the situation and its counsel was sought. Its members were polled individually, and unanimous support was given to close Saint Michael, Flint (Minutes of the Presbyteral Council, November 10, 2020).

Having judged that sufficient causes exist according to canon 1222 §2, and satisfied that the good of souls will not be impaired, and with the Reverend Pastor of the parish, its finance council and pastoral council, as well as the Presbyteral Council being in accord, I decree that the church known as Saint Michael, Flint, Michigan, be relegated to profane but not sordid use and thus closed permanently, with effect from December 20, 2020.

I direct that this decree be given to the pastor of Saint John Vianney Parish, and that its contents, especially the dispositive part of this decree, be communicated to parishioners on the weekend of November 21 – November 22, 2020. 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 ( 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 20th day of November, in the year of our Lord, 2020.

Most Reverend Earl Boyea
Bishop of Lansing

Mr. Michael Andrews, M.Div.