Divina Miseratione et Apostolicce Sedis Gratia
Merger of All Saints, a Personal Parish in Flint, with Saint John Vianney, a Territorial Parish in Flint
Established as a national parish by the Bishop of Detroit, All Saints Parish has served the Polish and other Slavic Catholic faithful as a personal parish on the north side of Flint, Michigan, since 1910. Generations have heard the Word of God proclaimed and preached in the language of their birth and their homes, been nourished by the Eucharist and the other sacraments, and gathered in community frequently to celebrate their rich cultural heritage.
This community of the faithful has been a particular source of joy and enrichment to the Diocese of Lansing since its own foundation in 1937. Under the care of their pastors, parishioners have lovingly brought their children to Christ by baptism, reared them by Catholic education and catechesis, witnessed their marriages in Christ, and committed their departed to him, laying them to rest in the parish cemetery.
However, the ethno-linguistic basis for All Saints as a personal parish, as canon 518 would consider it today, has diminished gradually, and no longer exists. The descendants of the immigrants and early members of the parish have moved away from the region, or if remaining, have found pastoral service in the other parishes of the region. Although proudly recalling the rich tradition and faith of their ancestors, they have nevertheless assimilated the general culture and embraced its language.
This was recognized in the extensive consultative study that preceded the promulgation of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan in 2008. The Plan provided for the extinctive merger of All Saints Parish with Saint John Vianney Parish upon the retirement of its pastor, Monsignor Anthony Majchrowski, serving since 1955, who has now entered his eternal rest.
This provision was based upon an combination of factors. These factors included the decline in the Catholic worshiping community at All Saints Parish, the reasonable access to nearby parishes and their churches, the desire to avoid duplication of services, the spiritual welfare of all the parish communities of the Flint area, the more effective spread of the Gospel, the promotion of unity among the People of God, the enhancement of collaborative ministry and the better utilization of the decreasing number of priests.
Today, to this must be added the suffering of the people of Flint and a decline of Catholic mass attendance and sacramental practice in the parishes of the county, which impart special urgency to coordinated efforts for the “new evangelization” in the region.
Thus, to strengthen the preaching of the Gospel and to ensure the vitality of parish life in the area, 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 take particular action for the spiritual care of the parishioners of this parish and the good of the diocese. Indeed, this action is motivated principally by concern for souls (Christus Dominus, no. 32) and required by the good of the faithful (Apostolorum Successores, no. 214).
Having asked parishioners to manifest their needs and desires through the work of the Diocesan Coordinating Commission, under the careful direction of the Office of Pastoral Planning which reviewed the recommendations of the parishes involved and provided the Genesee Regional report, I received, accepted and promulgated the final recommendations of the commission expressed in Planning Tomorrow’s Churches (September 15, 2008).
As the norm of universal law requires, I have now consulted the Presbyteral Council on this matter (November 10, 2015). Moreover, I have heard the College of Consultors (June 23, 2016) and received various reports and counsel from the Diocesan Pastoral Council and the Diocesan Finance Council.
Therefore, attentive to canons 120, §1, 121 and 515 §§2-3, as well as the "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" (Congregation for the Clergy, p.n. 2013-1348, April 30, 2013), by virtue of my authority and responsibility as Bishop of Lansing, I hereby decree:
That the personal parish of All Saints, Flint, Michigan, be merged (unio extinctiva) with Saint John Vianney Parish, Flint, Michigan (cf. can. 121). The consolidated parish shall retain the name of Saint John Vianney and the existing boundaries of the territorial parish.
The consolidated parish shall include the members of the present Saint John Vianney Parish and of the former All Saints Parish, to the extent that the latter wish to affiliate.
The Reverend Father Thomas Firestone, current pastor of Saint John Vianney, shall remain as pastor of the consolidated parish. He is to foster the pastoral care of the Catholic faithful entrusted to him, bearing in mind the provision of canon 519.
The ownership of all the ecclesiastical goods of All Saints, which include all its assets and liabilities, is now transferred to Saint John Vianney under the administration of its pastor. He is to see, in consultation with the diocesan finance officer, that all steps necessary to preserve civilly valid ownership of these goods are taken, and that prior arrangements to transfer by donation certain items for worship at the All Saints Chapel of Luke M. Powers Catholic High School are completed when that chapel is built.
The current church of Saint John Vianney shall be the principal place of worship of the consolidated parish. The sacred edifice of All Saints, while retaining its title, is now designated as an oratory according to the provisions of canons 1223-1225, and will be the auxiliary place of worship for Saint John Vianney. Any liturgical rites for the proper functioning of the parish may be celebrated at the oratory to meet the pastoral needs of the faithful, as necessary according to the judgment of its pastor.
Before August 30, 2016, the parish registers of the former All Saints Parish contain-ing the records of baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, marriage and deaths as well as parish records and historical documents are to be forwarded to Saint John Vianney Parish where they will be faithfully preserved and maintained in accord with canon 535 §1-5. Any registers, records and historical documents that are not required for the continued administration of All Saints Oratory and the adjoining complex are to be forwarded to the Diocesan Archives.
This decree shall take effect July 30, 2016.
I direct that it be given to the pastoral leadership of All Saints Parish and Saint John Vianney Parish, and that its contents, especially the dispositive part of this decree, be communicated to parishioners of both parishes on the weekend of Saturday, July 30, 2016 and Sunday, July 31, 2016. This may be effected by printing in the bulletin of each parish, or by posting in a public space of each parish church. The “Process to Initiate Recourse against an Administrative Decree” is to be made available as needed.
I further direct that this decree be published on the website of the Diocese of Lansing (www.dioceseoflansing.org) which will be presumed the official notification of this action (cf. canon 8 §2).
Anything to the contrary notwithstanding.
Given at the Curia of the Diocese of Lansing on this the 7th day of July, in the year of our Lord, 2016.