Decree - Suppression of Sacred Heart Parish



Divina Miseratione et Apostolicæ Sedis Gratia



Suppression of Sacred Heart Parish in Flint, Michigan;

Consolidation of ministries and programs with St John Vianney Parish in Flint, Michigan


Sacred Heart Parish in Flint, Michigan was originally established as a Slovak “national” or personal parish to serve the spiritual needs of the Slovak Catholic faithful on the north side of Flint, Michigan since 1928. Saint John Vianney Parish, as a territorial parish, has served the Catholic faithful of the northwest side of Flint, Michigan since 1941. During that time, many people have heard the Word of God, have worshiped and have received the sacraments of the Church in these parish communities. They have also vigorously promoted the educational and social ministries by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, reaching out to those in need in the local community in an exemplary Christian way. Now, in an effort 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, and to strengthen the important ministries that the parishioners of Sacred Heart Parish has developed, it is necessary to begin a new chapter of the Church’s presence on the north-northwest side of Flint.

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 Genesee-Owosso 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 the following:

  1. The closure of Sacred Heart Parish, Flint, Michigan, which will result in the suppression of its juridic personality. Insofar as it is possible, all the ministries, currently operated under the aegis of Sacred Heart Parish, will become the responsibility of Saint John Vianney Parish in Flint, Michigan. This closure shall take effect at midnight at the end of Wednesday, August 27, 2008.
  2. Parishioners, who have affiliated with Sacred Heart Parish, are urged to join the parish in whose territory they reside or may join the new Catholic community resulting from the consolidation of Saint Agnes Parish, Flint, Michigan and Saint Luke Parish, Flint, Michigan and Saint John Vianney Parish, Flint, Michigan. This new consolidated parish shall encompass the territories delineated by the two former parishes and the current Saint John Vianney Parish. The existing church edifice of Saint John Vianney will be the worship site for the consolidated parish community.
  3. In accord with canon 519, Father Thomas Firestone will be appointed pastor of the consolidated Catholic community and assume the pastoral care of the new Catholic community.

This decision is based upon a number of factors, among which are the desire to avoid duplication of services and the increasing expenses associated with necessary repairs and maintenance to aging structures, and the original intention for establishing the Church as a personal parish can no longer be sustained. It also includes the spiritual welfare of the parish communities, the spread of the Gospel, the fostering 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 August 29, 2008, the parish registers containing the records of baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, marriage and deaths, and all parish records and historical documents are to be forwarded to the Diocesan Archives where they will be faithfully preserved in accord with canon 535, §§1-5. Through this decree, I further order that, according to the provision of canon 121, all assets and liabilities, whether movable or immovable, of Sacred Heart Parish, will become the assets and liabilities of the new Catholic community, mentioned above, for the purpose of sustaining the outreach programs and social ministries administered by it. Furthermore, ownership of all ecclesiastical goods and all objects of artistic or historical value belonging to Sacred Heart Parish will be transferred to the new Catholic community and will be administered in accordance with the prescriptions of Church law.

The effect of the suppression of Sacred Heart Parish is the termination of the juridic personality of the former Sacred Heart 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 according to the norm of law.

I direct that this decree be given to the pastoral leadership of Sacred Heart Parish and Saint John Vianney Parish, and that its contents, especially the dispositive part of this decree, along with the “Process to Initiate Recourse against an Administrative Decree” be communicated to parishioners on the weekend of Saturday, July 19, 2008 and Sunday, July 20, 2008. I further direct that this decree be published on the website of the Diocese of Lansing ( which will be presumed 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 July, in the year of our Lord, 2008.