Relegation of Holy Trinity Oratory in Ypsilanti, Michigan to Profane but not Sordid Use



Divina Miseratione et Apostolicæ Sedis Gratia



Holy Trinity Parish, Ypsilanti, was merged (unio extinctiva) with Saint John the Baptist Parish, Ypsilanti, by means of a decree of August 10th, 2012, according to the norms of law. This decree also established its sacred edifice as an oratory of Saint John the Baptist Parish and styled it to be commonly known as Holy Trinity Student Center. 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.

After reviewing the financial condition that Saint John Parish faced following the merger, its finance council apprised me that Holy Trinity brought a debt in excess of one million dollars to Saint John, and the parish could not generate sufficient revenue to repay it. Moreover, as the pastor informed the parishioners, Holy Trinity required repairs and upgrades costing in excess of $100,000, and entailed annual maintenance costs in excess of $50,000 annually. This burden of debt impedes the ministry of Saint John Parish and foreseeably endangers its financial stability. Indeed, the pastor and finance council have been led to propose sale of the property as a means to resolve the debt.

Due to its condition, sacred worship and parish events cannot be conducted in this sacred building presently, and the Blessed Sacrament has been removed in accord with law. 

Indeed, it is neither necessary nor feasible to maintain the edifice as a separate place of sacred worship or for the exercise of other Catholic apostolates or ministries. These are provided for at the site of Saint John Parish itself. Since the parish campus and the oratory are separated by only two-tenths of a mile, no hindrance to divine worship or pastoral service would befall the faithful by the closure of the oratory.

To the contrary, limiting sacred worship as well as pastoral and apostolic efforts to one site strengthens the ministry of the Church in Ypsilanti and the campus ministry of the area, and restrains the undue multiplication of priestly duties.

It is to be noted also, that the building lacks any special artistic, architectural or historical significance. 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).

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 Holy Trinity (minutes of the Presbyteral Council, September 12, 2013).

Having judged that sufficient causes exist according to canon 1222 §2, and satisfied that the good of souls will not be impaired, I decree that the oratory commonly known as Holy Trinity Student Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan, be relegated to profane but not sordid use and thus closed permanently.

I direct that this decree be given to the pastor of Saint John the Baptist Parish, and that its contents, especially the dispositive part of this decree, be communicated to parishioners on the weekend of September 27 – September 28, 2014. 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 22nd day of September, in the year of our Lord, 2014.