In February of this year, Bishop Robert J. Cunningham released the following statement regarding the status of St. Mary’s Church in Jamesville:
Recently media outlets have reported that a group of former parishioners of St. Mary’s Mission in Jamesville indicated that the Supreme Tribunal of the Sacred Signatura has ruled twice that the former parish should be opened. In fact, the rulings of the Signatura do not reflect their desired outcome in this matter. The Code of Canon Law, which governs the Church legal processes, makes a clear distinction between a parish and a church building. These definitions form the basis of the confusion about the reporting of the announcement by the Jamesville committee.
In its August 11, 2011 Decree the Sacred Tribunal ruled that the merger of St. Mary’s Mission in Jamesville into Holy Cross Parish, Dewitt, has been upheld. There is no violation of the law in this matter. Therefore St. Mary’s is no longer a separate parish. As such it will no longer have the regularly scheduled services that would take place in a normal parish.
The Signatura did rule that there was not sufficiently grave cause for the closure of St. Mary’s Church building. Therefore the Tribunal indicates that although the parish is merged, the church building remains a sacred place and may not be set over to secular use. As such, from time to time church services will be held there. For those who have an affinity for the building and who are registered and participating members of Holy Cross Parish, weddings and funerals will be permitted. Occasionally other Church services may be held.
The decree of the Apostolic Signatura applies only to the Church building since it is a sacred place. It does not apply to other property that belonged to the former parish and is now part of Holy Cross Parish.
The outcome of the canonical process is that the 2007 merger of the Parish of St. Mary’s into Holy Cross Parish has been affirmed. Again, the church building and the parish are separate entities and it is the church building that remains a sacred place and may be used for occasional services. (end of statement)
It should be noted that in this statement and in the formal decree that was sent to the Congregation for the Clergy and the Sacred Signatura at the Vatican, it is stated that “As such, from time to time church services will be held there. For those who have an affinity for the building and who are registered and participating members of Holy Cross Parish, weddings and funerals will be permitted. Occasionally other Church services may be held.”
This information has been shared with the petitioners, Holy Cross Parish and the readership of the Catholic Sun. On February 3, Bishop Cunningham was notified by the Congregation for the Clergy that his decree had been received and stated the following: “The Dicastery is grateful for the prompt response to our enquiry concerning the manner in which Your Excellency intends to effect to the aforementioned Definitive Sentence. Please be informed that the measures that have been taken are considered to be consistent with that sentence, since the church in question remains a place of worship in accord with the provisions of Canon 1214CIC. Naturally, decisions regarding the frequency and type of celebration to be held come primarily under the competence of the pastor.”
This most recent correspondence has also been shared with the petitioners. While the diocese has deep esteem for those concerned about St. Mary’s, it also acknowledges that the Congregation has informed the petitioners that their appeal has been concluded.