St. Marys Catholic Church

St. Marys Catholic Church

Appeal May 26, 2007

St. Mary’s Church P.O. Box 441 Jamesville, NY 13078

August 28, 2008

Bishop James Moynihan
Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse
240 E. Onondaga St.
Syracuse, NY 13202

Re: St. Mary’s, Jamesville, NY - Response to the Congregations for the Clergy August S, 2008 Decree (Prot N. 20082142)

Dear Bishop Moynihan:

The purpose of this letter is to follow the advice of the Congregation of Clergy and respond to their letter dated August 6,2008 (Attachment 1 PDF). In this letter, the Congregation of Clergy states, ‘Tor the acts of those who are subordinate to the Bishop, then he is the competent authority in question, not this Congregation, (cf.Canon 1734,3.1]. As Msgr. Yeazel is subject to the Bishop of Syracuse, then any "recourse" against his administrative act should be directed to the local Ordinary."

We are grateful for the advice that the Congregation for the Clergy has provided St. Mary’s parishioners and would like to take recourse against that specific act of administration of Msgr. J. Robert Yeazel to you, Bishop Moynihan, "the competent authority in question."

We wish to present the following information:
  1. In St. Mary’s June 2005 first year report written by Administrator Fr. Finnegan, St. Mary’s parishioners were informed that, "St. Mary’s would become a mission of Holy Cross with Fr. Yeazel as its administrator." This report also stated,

    " We will be working closely with Fr. Yeazel over the next three months so that things will first be in good order when Fr. Baranski comes and in good order when a year is over and the status of St Mary’s will change. That is a change we can be certain of. It will be a good change and the best part of it is that St Mary’s will not be closed. St Mary’s will not lose its own identity and that is something that is now assured whereas it was not assured before" (Attachment 2 PDF).

    In Fr. John Finnegan’s September 17, 2005 weekly letter to parishioners he notified St Mary’s parishioners of the diocesan plans to become a "Mission" of Holy Cross. In this letter he stated that by virtue of this alteration in status, St Mary’s "is in very good hands, has a bright future and will be a place of worship for years to come" (Attachment 3 PDF). In a letter dated May 25, 2006, Vicar for Parishes, Rev. James P. Lang stated that Bishop Moynihan accepted the recommendation of the Presbyteral council and authorized that St. Mary’s become a mission of Holy Cross Parish in Dewitt as of October 1, 2006 (Attachment 4 PDF ). This alteration of status was welcomed and confirmed our belief that our viable existence would continue. Historically, missions remained operational for years in the Syracuse Diocese and did not portend suppression or closure. It is simply a status where two parishes share one pastor and is not synonymous with suppression or parish closures. Precedent was set when St Mary’s experienced "Mission" arrangements at least twice in their 100+ year history. For this reason, when St Mary’s was told of their mission status in 2006, it was simply considered a change in status.

    The first time St Mary’s parishioners learned that St Mary’s was suppressed by becoming a mission in 2006, was when we received the August 5,2008 Decree from the Congregation for the Clergy (Attachment 5 PDF). If suppression is what the Syracuse Diocese and Msgr. Yeazel intended, the intent was not stated in the May 25,2006 letter. As stated in Canon 1391.1, "a person who composes a false public ecclesiastical document...or conceals a genuine one" can be punished with a just penalty according to the gravity of the offence. It is our belief that we are entitled to the Decree of Suppression. In a letter dated June 20, 2007 we asked for a Decree and we still have not received a response from the Diocese (Attachment 6 PDF). Concealment of the act occurred at the time we became a mission and when this Decree was requested in our 6/20/071etter. We are once again requesting the Decree of Suppression for St. Mary’s, Jamesville.

  2. In the August 5,2008 Decree, The Congregation for the Clergy concluded in item #14 that "The Bishop indicated, at least in summary fashion, the reasons for his actions, and they are sufficient" and referred to Bishop Moynihan’s April 27,2007 letter (Attachment 7 PDF). We strongly question this conclusion.

    In the April 27, 2007 letter, "sweeping demographic changes and limited human and financial resources" were stated as the reason for closure. In Fr. Lang’s June 2006 letter to the Pastoral Care Areas, he requested sixteen points, which you wished to be included in the plans submitted for your Thanksgiving 2006 Mandate (Attachment 8 PDF). We believe the mandate was not followed when Msgr. Yeazel submitted "Recommendations From Holy Cross and St. Mary’s, Jamesville P.C A", dated 10-26-06 (Attachment 9 PDF). The submission of this plan came as a surprise to the St Mary’s PCA representatives as stated in John P. Clinton’s February 4, 2008 affidavit(Attachment 10 PDF). This demonstrates another possible act of concealment.

    The laity of St Mary’s responded directly to the 2001 Pastoral Care letter, negating the limited human resource factor. The most fundamental right of a parish in canon law is the right to come into existence, be acknowledged and continue its existence. We understand canonically that a shortage of priests alone is not an adequate reason to suppress parishes. To be suppressed, the impossibility of continued life must be clearly demonstrated. St Mary’s, is a financially viable, active parish in a growing area (Attachment 11 PDF). St Mary’s met or exceeded the diocesan Indices For Parish Life. In Fr. John Finnegan’s September 17,2005 weekly letter he says, "I don't know of any parish which has the level of commitment and volunteerism that is much the hallmark of the fine parish and community of good and faith-filled people." Throughout the appeal process the St Mary’s community continues to remain viable. There are active and retired priests who continue to offer to minister to St Mary’s parishioners but are not permitted by the Syracuse Diocese, at this time. We believe there has been a miscarriage of justice because the reasons given for closure by the Syracuse Diocese do not correspond to the facts of our case nor are they sufficient for closure.
St. Mary’s is a unique Christian community and it is the only Catholic presence in Jamesville. We welcome an opportunity to meet with you to discuss ways this presence maybe strengthened.

We look forward to your response.

Sincerely in Christ

St Mary’s Appeal Committee

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