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Bishop Issues Decree Relegating St. Mary in Manistee



Divina Miseratione et Apostolice Sedis Gratia


Relegation of St. Mary of Mount Carmel Shrine
Manistee, Michigan


Whereas in 1862, St. Mary was the first Catholic Church in Manistee. The church was located on the north side of the Manistee River. In 1874, the second St. Mary Church was built on the corner of Sycamore and Third Streets. It remained there until St. Mary of Mount Carmel Shrine was built. It was dedicated Our Lady of Mount Carmel Shrine on July 14, 1963 by Bishop Allen Babcock.

Whereas in consequence of the Parish and Personnel Task Force Report (2009), St. Mary of Mount Carmel Shrine became a part of the “Catholic Community of Manistee.”  As of 2014, the parish church and facilities became a more limited use facility utilized for weddings, funerals and special liturgical celebrations to honor our Lady. 

Whereas on November 27, 2016, the Catholic Community of Manistee became known as Divine Mercy Parish by a decree issued on October 22, 2016, the feast day of Pope St. John Paul II.  St. Mary of Mount Carmel Shrine remained one of the worship sites up to the present day.

Whereas church buildings are not simply meeting places for the faithful but the dwelling place of God and a symbol of the Church present in the locality and permanently designated for the worship of God, and whereas only those things which serve the exercise or promotion of worship, piety or religion are permitted in a sacred place (Congregation for Bishops, Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops “Apostolorum Successores”, February 22, 2004, n. 154; cf. can 1210);

Whereas charity and other assistance to be bestowed on the poor and other things of this kind cannot be neglected in order to preserve a sacred building (cf. Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, Final Decree of the College of Judges coram Agustoni, May 4, 1996);

Whereas where grave causes suggest that a church will no longer be used for divine worship, the diocesan bishop, after having heard the Presbyteral Council, can relegate it to profane but not unbecoming use, with the consent of those who legitimately claim rights for themselves in the church and provided that the good of souls suffers no detriment hereby (can. 1222, §2);

Whereas the grave cause of relegation to profane but not unbecoming use may exist not in one obvious grave cause, but may arise from a combination of many just causes which combined together manifest a grave cause (cf. Congregation for Clergy, 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, April 30, 2013, Prot. No. 20131348);

Whereas the gravity of the reason results from the sum of the circumstances which show that the reason is of great importance in the concrete case (cf. Nicholas Schöch, “Relegation of Churches to Profane Use (C. 1222, §2): Reasons and Procedure,” The Jurist 67 [2007] 491);

Whereas Father Zeljko Guberovic, Pastor of Divine Mercy Parish, Manistee, after consultation with and the consent of the Pastoral and Finance Councils, has requested to relegate the church of St. Mary of Mount Carmel Shrine to profane but not unbecoming use, because of the immense financial burden to repair and to maintain the building and the lack of parochial resources, as well as the shortage of clergy to engage in the care of souls;

Whereas the matter was also brought before the College of Consultors and the Diocesan Finance Council and received their consent on August 29, 2018 and was also presented to the Diocesan Pastoral Council at its meeting of September 8, 2018;  

Whereas we have abundantly established that grave reasons exist and are present as required by canon 1222, §2, even if some of the reasons invoked may not by themselves constitute a grave cause, they do when taken together;

After having heard the Presbyteral Council on September 19, 2018, and after having explained the motives for the relegation of the church, the Presbyteral Council gave a favorable advice for the relegation of the church of St. Mary of Mount Carmel Shrine in the Divine Mercy Parish, by unanimous consent with one abstention and satisfied that the good of souls will not be impaired, I, the undersigned Bishop of Gaylord, have decided as follows:


1. The church of St. Mary of Mount Carmel is hereby relegated according to the prescripts of canon 1222, §2 for the grave causes mentioned above.

2. It is thus made available for alienation within the provisions of canon and civil law and with the express stipulation that it may not be used at any time for purposes contrary to the conditions and terms of sale, respecting the nature of its former religious status.

3. In addition, I further stipulate that care be taken so that the statues, religious furniture and articles, as well as the memorials of support of the benefactors of St. Mary of Mount Carmel Shrine, be inventoried and preserved in an appropriate manner in other churches prior to the alienation.  In the event that the altars cannot be removed, they must be destroyed (cf. can. 1212 and 1238).  The memory and intention of benefactors are to be honored and maintained in an appropriate and dignified way at St. Joseph Church, Manistee, the main parochial church of Divine Mercy Parish.

I also direct that this decree be notified to the pastoral leadership of Divine Mercy Parish and that its contents, especially its dispositive part, be communicated to parishioners of Divine Mercy Parish on the weekend of Saturday, November 10 – Sunday, November 11, 2018.  This may be accomplished by printing in the parish bulletin, or by posting this decree in a public space of St. Joseph Church.

I further direct that this decree be published on the website of the Diocese of Gaylord ( which will be presumed to be the official notification of this action (cf. canon 8, §2).

All those who claim to have been aggrieved by this decree are herewith notified that, if they desire to file recourse against our decree they are required, for validity, to submit a petition in the sense of canon 1734, §1 to us within ten useful days from the legitimate notification of this decree. The “Process to Initiate Recourse against an Administrative Decree” is to be made available as needed.

A final Mass at St. Mary of Mount Carmel Shrine will take place at a time to be determined and announced.

Anything to the contrary notwithstanding.

Given with immediate effect at the Pastoral Center of the Diocese of Gaylord on this the 10th day of November 2018, the Feast of Pope St. Leo the Great.

                                                                                    +Steven J Raica
                                                                                    Bishop of Gaylord


                                                                                    Reverend Matthew Wigton





The Process to initiate a recourse against an Administrative Decree

The process to initiate a recourse against administrative decrees, such as the establishment, merger, modification or suppression of a parish or the closure of a church building is found in Book VII, Part V, Section 1 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law. The principle expressed by the Code itself is that there be no contention between one who feels injured and the author of the decree (cf. canon 1733). If it is necessary to propose a recourse petition against a decree issued by the bishop or by authorities subject to him, the following points may be of some assistance.

1. The pastor alone represents the parish in all juridic affairs (cf. canon 532). Only the pastor may propose recourse in the name of the parish. Individuals may not claim to represent the parish, nor can groups of individuals claim to represent the parish in proposing recourse. An individual, however, may propose recourse only in his or her own name. Similarly, a group of individuals may propose recourse collectively, but representing themselves and no others. They may not claim to represent a larger group, or the entire parish.

2. Canon 1734 establishes that, before proposing hierarchic recourse (i.e., a petition for examination of a decree by the proper Dicastery of the Holy See), one must seek revocation or emendation of the decree, first. This must be done in writing to the author of the decree, within a peremptory period of ten (10) available days (tempus utile) from legal notice of the decree. Accordingly, prior to the close of business on the tenth (10th) available day after the legal notice of the decree, a written request for Bishop Raica to revoke or amend the decree must be sent or delivered to:

Most Reverend Steven J Raica, DD, JCD
Diocese of Gaylord
611 W North St
Gaylord MI 49735-8349

a. Recourse petitions must state exactly what is being petitioned and the reasons why

b. Recourse petitions that are not specific as to what is sought or why it is petitioned, will not be accepted and will not be considered as delaying the initial ten (10) day limit

c. Requests for an extension of time will not be honored;

d. Recourse petitions sent by facsimile (fax) will not be accepted.

3. If a valid petition for revocation or emendation of a decree is received within the ten (10) day time limit, Bishop Raica has thirty (30) days from receipt of the recourse petition to respond. If no response is given in thirty (30) days, a negative response is to be assumed (cf. canon 1735).

4. If, after a legitimate recourse petition has been presented, Bishop Raica does not amend or revoke the initial decree, hierarchic recourse may be proposed to the Holy See. This must be done within a peremptory time limit of fifteen (15) available days. This recourse cannot validly be proposed unless one has first written to Bishop Raica, asking him to revoke or amend the decree, as in Number 2 above. This recourse is to be made in writing, along with the reasons for seeking the recourse, to the proper Dicastery of the Holy See.



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