Initiatives
Save Our Parish Community

 

SAVE OUR PARISH COMMUNITY, CHANGE VATICAN POLICY
(Photo by MAURICIO PEÑA)MAURICIO PEÑA/ BLOCK CLUB CHICAGO St. Adalbert ParishionersABOUT OUR RESOURCE

FutureChurch supports parishioners in saving their parishes. 

This FutureChurch initiative, designed to provide Catholics with tools to defend their parish homes, has contributed to a highly significant change in Vatican policy.

The project provides educational and organizing resources to faith communities discerning an appropriate response to diocesan decisions to close or merge their vibrant, solvent, and apostolically effective parish. It also educates about effective diocesan processes inviting parishioner involvement in deciding the future of their parish.

FutureChurch’s Save Our Parish Community initiative helped Catholics from 36 U.S. parishes in eight dioceses win their appeals, including thirteen in Cleveland, OH; nine in Allentown, PA; four in Springfield, MA; and one each in Camden, NJ, Buffalo NY, Kansas City, KS and Grand Rapids, MI.

We have also worked closely with Peter Borré and Boston’s Council of Parishes, the courageous group that first resisted unjust church closings in Boston and then proceeded to assist Catholics in other cities. Along with Sr. Kate, Borré’s high profile media work and networking in Rome were important factors in catalyzing change.

As is true of all of FutureChurch’s grassroots initiatives, everything depends on faithful Catholics taking responsible action to address church injustices that cry out for redress.

IMPORTANT RESOURCES

An important project resource is a “Crisis Kit” available for free downloading. The kit contains immediate information viable parish communities need when faced with unwanted closure. It includes good and bad reasons to close parishes, how to seek immediate canonical redress, information about protecting parish rights, prayer and media resources, and where to get immediate help and support.

The Save Our Parish Community packet is another important resource. It contains more extensive information about canonical and civil redress, biblical, theological and canonical essays about early faith communities and a parish’s right to exist, a sample parish discernment process, information about parish administrators, deacons and lay ministers, information about the experiences of parishes who resisted closure, a sample parish constitution, prayers to use when your parish is closed, prayers to use for parish vigils as well as organizing and media tools. (Order the Save Our Parish Community packet)
REASONS THAT ARE NOT VALID FOR CLOSING A PARISH
A March 7, 2012, decree from the Congregation for the Clergy overruled Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon’s March 2009 decision to suppress eleven Cleveland parishes and close their churches.  Exceeding all expectations, the Cleveland decrees actually set a new precedent. For the first time, a bishop was ordered to restore suppressed parishes as well as reopen their churches.

According to a Commentary on Vatican Decrees Upholding Cleveland Parishioner Appeals, written by canon lawyer, Sr. Kate Kuenstler, PHJC, JCD, “Both the Congregation for Clergy and the Apostolic Signatura now make a clear distinction between the legitimate reasons to merge parishes and legitimate reasons to close a church.”

No longer considered legitimate reasons for closing a church are the following:

The shortage of priests

The church is in close proximity to another church

The church is no longer considered necessary for worship when a parish is suppressed or merged

The maintenance for a building no longer needed as a church for Divine worship is a financial burden to the parish
IF YOU RECEIVE A NOTICE THAT YOUR PARISH IS CLOSING

If you receive notice that your parish is closing, you will need to send a letter to your bishop telling him you don't agree within 10 days.  Send it by registered mail so you have proof that you sent it.  Download our materials for further instructions.  

CANON LAWYERS WHO CAN ASSIST YOU

Robert Flummerfelt, is a canon lawyer with experience in defending the rights of the faithful.  He is also a civil lawyer. Here is the website of his firm: http://www.canonlawservices.com. His contact info is below.

ROBERT J.B. FLUMMERFELT, J.C.L., J.D., ESQ.
410 South Rampart Blvd., Suite 390
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA 89145
Phone (702) 726-6777
Fax (702) 866-9868

robert@canonlaw.us
canonlawservices@canonlaw.us

The first consultation is free of charge. After that the firm charges $100 per hour with an upfront retainer fee of $1,000. If/when the retainer hours are exhausted, discounted rates are available. They do try to work with peoples’ budgets, so some fees are negotiable.   This office engages a full time Roman Rotal Advocate, Dr. Mauro Visigalli, to assist with recourses to the Vatican.

Justin M. Wachs J.C.D. has had extensive experience in Rome and experience filing parish recourses at the Congregation for the Clergy.  

JUSTIN M. WACHS, J.C.D.

Canon Law Professionals
29 Lower Copeland Hill Road
Feura Bush,  NY 12067
518.768.2507 (voice/fax)

jmw@canonlawprofessionals.com
www.canonlawprofessionals.com

The first hour of consultation with Justin is free of charge. After that the organization charges charge $250 per hour with an upfront five hour retainer fee of $1250.   That said, they do try to work with peoples’ budgets.  Here is a link to the page that describes their fees etc. http://www.canonlawprofessionals.com/consultationfees.html

Canon Law Professionals.com www.canonlawprofessionals.com
Canon Law Professionals is a group of experienced lay, religious, and clergy canon lawyers of varied educational and practical backgrounds collaborating to satisfy the many canonical needs of today’s Church and providing a full range of professional canonical services to dioceses, religious communities, individuals, and institutions in the Catholic Church, always keeping in mind that “the salvation of souls is always the supreme law in the Church.”

Clientele Canon Law Professionals serves all members of the Catholic Church and all organizations associated with the Catholic Church. We provide a depth of expertise which some dioceses, religious communities, and religious institutions  may not readily possess. We supplement the needs of dioceses and religious communities when concerns call for unbiased assistance. We aid dioceses and parishes with planning and conflict resolution. We work with all individuals who have concerns, need assistance, seek information, or demand recourse in Catholic Church law.

Sr. Kate Kuenstler, PHJC, JCD

Normally FutureChurch refers people to Sr. Kate Kuenstler who has helped very many parishes in the US and around the world with appeals.  She has Doctorate in Canon Law from Angelicum Rome 1995, a Licentiate in Canon Law from the Angelicum Rome 1993 and an MA Religious Studies Aquinas College, Grand Rapids, MI.  She has been in the private practice of canon law for many years.

Unfortunately, Sr. Kate has recently experienced some health issues and does not anticipate resuming her canonical work until early in 2020.

MORE QUESTIONS?

If you have questions call FutureChurch at 216.228.0869 x3 or write to DebRose@FutureChurch.org.

DOWNLOAD FREE MATERIALS TO HELP YOUR PARISH COMMUNITY

Get news about parish closings, mergers, appeals and successes!
Join in actions parishes are taking to save their communities!

Since 2007, our Save Our Parish Community project has guided successful parishioner appeals across the U.S., and in Cleveland, Ohio. 

 

Download free materials to help your parish community

Sr. Kate has succeeded in winning many cases, including ones at the Congregation for the Clergy and the Apostolic Signatura, both very rare occurrences. FutureChurch was happy to honor her with our Fr. Louis J. Trivison award in September 2012.  (Sr. Kate Kuenstler Receiving FutureChurch 2012 Louis J. Trivison Award)