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A brief history of St Patricks




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MAY 25, 2002

Hartford * Slinger * Erin
Thursday, May 30, 2002

Church Court Upholds Decision
Save St. Pat’s Group remains “very positive”

by Gay Greisbach
Times Press Staff

Former members of parishes in southeastern Wisconsin heard from Rome this week, but the message wasn't what they were praying for.
Milwaukee Archdiocese spokesman Jerry Topczewski said the archdiocese's advocate in Rome informed them that the Apostolic Signatura - the highest court in the Catholic Church - has upheld decisions Archbishop Rembert Weakland made during the merger process regarding the former St. Patrick's Church in the town of Erin with St. Kilian Church in Hartford.

Save St. Patrick Group spokeswoman Maureen Fitzsimmons-Vanden Heuvel said she still feels "very positive."

The group has stood firm against Weakland's 1999 directive to close the church for anything but an occasional use as a chapel as part of a plan to realign the 10-county archdiocese, filing an appeal in Rome in May 2000 and entering into a civil suit with former members of St. Casimir, Kenosha.

In July 2000, a Milwaukee County judge dismissed the civil suit over the opening of records for St. Patrick's and St. Casimir.

Alan Kershaw, the Erin group's Canon lawyer and Rotal Advocate, can appeal to the Plenary Session of the Signatura to buy some time.

"We believe this is the right thing to do, since Archbishop Weakland has already submitted his resignation to the Vatican. The announcement of the next, great and holy archbishop could come any day and with it hopefully, joyfully the reopening of St. Patrick of Erin, St. Joseph of Cudahy and St. Casimir of Kenosha," said Fitzsimmons-Vanden Heuvel.

She said the church presently does not look at the reason for the closing, but the procedure used.

"From the very beginning, we asked (Weakland) for a meeting - to sit down with him and tell the archbishop what our thoughts and ideas were to keep our parish open," said Fitzsimmons-Vanden Heuvel, adding the request was denied.

"Why would you close a viable parish? We were financially solvent had a vibrant faith community. Our closing made no sense," she said.

To her understanding of canon law, parishes are closed if there is no hope of their continued existence.

"We believe to this day (Weakland) did not follow proper procedure, but we believe we can outlast him. We are not going to give up," said Fitzsimmons-Vanden Heuvel.