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A brief history of St Patricks




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To All Parishioners and Friends of St Patrick Parish.

On March 2, 2000, a joint civil lawsuit was filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee regarding the merging of St. Patrick Parish in the Town of Erin and St. Casmir Parish in Kenosha, Wisconsin. We hope the following information will help to explain the need for this action.

First, it is important to know that every Roman Catholic Church in the State of Wisconsin is a separate corporation, subject to and protected by Wisconsin State Statute Chapter 187.19. The officers of the corporation are: president (bishop), vice president (pastor), treasurer and secretary (trustees selected or chosen from among the laypersons of the parish). The original state statute was written in 1898, and it is our belief that even 100 years ago there was concern that the generosity of the "community" churches warranted protection under the law. At the present time, Wisconsin Statute 187.19 states that "real estate of the corporation shall not be sold, mortgaged, encumbered or disposed of in any manner without the vote and consent of all the directors." It also states that in order to dissolve a corporation you must have the "unanimous vote of all the directors." In addition it is our belief that the statute does not empower the archdiocese to merge parishes as Catholic churches are excluded from Wisconsin State Statute 187.0l (7) governing Religious Societies. We thank God for our two trustees who had the courage of their faith and voted against the dissolution of our corporation. St Patrick Parish still exists as a corporation as confirmed by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.

It should be noted that the Wisconsin Catholic Conference (Archbishop Weakland, Chairman) approached the Wisconsin Slate Legislature and asked them to write Assembly Bill 189 after they had merged 40 parishes. This bill stated: "To permit two or more incorporated Roman Catholic congregations to merge with another such corporation or to consolidate into a new corporation if approved by the bishop of the diocese in which corporations are located. Directors of each affected corporation to adopt by two-thirds vote, an implementing plan" On December 23, 1999. Governor Tommy Thompson vetoed Assembly Bill 189 and stated that he was concerned that this legislation would, by changing the rules, insert the state in the midst of a merger process currently under way. The governor believed "a negative precedent might be set if the state were to involve itself in parish consolidations and other financial dealings of the Roman Catholic Church" Thc members of "Save St. Patrick Parish" agree and applaud the governor's veto.

We have also been fortunate to receive a copy of a beautiful book entitled "The Parish in Catholic Tradition--History, Theology and Canon Law by Father James A. Coriden a professor of Canon Law. In his book Father Coriden writes about the equality among Catholic communities and "even though they may differ in number, size of territory, age of establishment, quality of buildings, location, economic wealth and ethnic composition they are radically equal as congregations of the faithful. They may not be treated as privileged or second-rate, some favored with careful attention and others relatively neglected." Father Coriden goes on to state that "parishes should not be suppressed or merged with others unless they are no longer viable. The impossibility of their continued life must be clearly demonstrated. A shortage of priests for pastoral leadership is not an adequate reason to suppress or combine parishes Canon law strongly recommends liturgies of the word and group prayer in the absence of sacred ministers (Canon 1248.2)" Father Coriden goes on to write that the Apostolic Signatura (the Supreme Court of the Catholic Church) has recognized as few as two parishioners to have standing to pursue an appeal against a decree of suppression (closing) of their parish. Finally, Father Coriden states that the asserting of parish rights and their vindication does not detract from the hierarchical authority of the Catholic Church but "is an authentic expression of the Catholic tradition."

Members of "Save St. Patrick Parish" Preservation Committee will continue to pursue all avenues open to us within the framework and guidelines of the Roman Catholic Church as well as the State of Wisconsin. However, we cannot be successful without your help Please keep us in your daily prayers that God will bless our efforts to reopen our beautiful, historic 145-year old St. Patrick Church. Financial assistance of any amount is gladly welcomed either through a one-time or a monthly offering. You may send your contribution to: St. Patrick Parish Preservation Fund, c/o Mrs. Joan Coffey, 1480 Highway 83. Hartford. WI 53027. Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact Frank at 262/673-3498 or Maureen at 262/670-0975 May God bless you now and forever.

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