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A brief history of St Patricks




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Erin Catholic parish also
awaiting word from the Vatican
Save St. Patrick group appealing
decision to close their church

By GAY GRIESBACH - Daily News Staff
May 31, 2001

Published May 31, 2001

Although the congregational opposition to renovations of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Milwaukee has taken the spotlight, representatives of smaller parishes in the Milwaukee Archdiocese are lined up in Rome to appeal other actions taken by Archbishop Rembert Weakland. Maureen Fitzsimmons Vanden Heuvel, spokeswoman for the Save St. Patrick Preservation group, said an initial suit to reopen the church was denied about six weeks ago by the Congregation for the Clergy, but attorney Alan Kershaw said it was typical for the forum to deny a group claim.
Kershaw is a Rotal advocate, allowed to practice in the Vatican court. He is currently serving as attorney in appeals filed by members opposed to the closing of St. Patrick Church in the town of Erin, St. Casmir Church in Kenosha and St. Joseph Church in Cudahy. The group opposed to the renovation of St. John's got his name from members of the St. Pat's group and he is forwarding their action.
A civil suit over the opening of records brought by former members of St. Patrick, St. Joseph and St. Casimir Catholic churches was dismissed by a Milwaukee County judge in July 2000, but former members of all three parishes are appealing Archbishop Rembert Weakland's decision to close the churches.
The July complaint asked the court whether parishioners have a right to file a lawsuit, who has control over the properties and bank accounts, and whether the parishes could be reopened in the same manner as they had been operated in before Weakland implemented a plan to realign the 10-county Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
"We believe this denial was a way to spur separate appeals to the Apostolic Signatura (the Supreme Court of the Vatican)," said Fitzsimmons-Vanden Heuvel.
The initial cost of filing the appeal was $3,500, and Fitzsimmons-Vanden Heuvel said $3,000 has already been raised.
St. Casmir and St. Joseph are up for sale, but the appeal may hold up any transactions regarding the buildings.
The St. Patrick's group filed its appeal April 4, and was told it would take 12 to 18 months to be heard.
The church was converted to an occasional-use chapel in 1999 and the parish was merged with St. Kilian in Hartford.
The 146-year-old church was built by Irish immigrants and is one of the few churches built in the shape of a cross, according to information provided by the St. Patrick group's application to have the building declared a county landmark.
Landmark status may also not be granted because the approval hinges on the property owner - the Archdiocese' - permission.
Fitzsimmons-Vanden Heuvel said she wrote to Weakland April 30, asking to allow the historical designation. She said they have not heard back from his office as of Wednesday.
The application was made to the county clerk's office in a Dec. 14 letter from the non-profit group.
At that time, a spokesman for the Archdiocese said it opposes historical status or landmark designation for any of its properties with the exception of the Cathedral of St. John, which is undergoing a massive renovation. Fitzismmons-Vanden Heuvel stated that other churches have been granted Landmark status by the Milwaukee Archdiocese.
The archbishop of Milwaukee replied to the Vatican Tuesday, seeking to resolve questions opponents have raised about the renovation. The project calls for moving the altar about one-third of the way down the main aisle. Chairs with kneelers would replace the cathedral's pews and surround the altar on three sides.
Vanden Heuvel has been following the St. John situation."If his renovation is denied, (Weakland) will learn about the appeal process - just like we are," Fitzsimmons-Vanden Heuvel said.