Decree of Suppression of St. Joseph Parish – Lillis, Kansas, and Alteration of the Surrounding Parishes of Annunciation, Frankfort; St. Vincent de Paul, Onaga; St. Patrick, Corning; and St. Columbkille, Blaine.
In recent decades, due to shifting demographics, fewer priests and the increased ease of travel for most families, several parishes and mission churches throughout the Archdiocese that had previously thrived were closed or merged, so that the limited available resources might be better applied to serve all the faithful of northeast Kansas and continue the commission given by Jesus: to proclaim the Gospel, make disciples and serve others in his name. The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas has for many years conducted regional pastoral planning processes for the various parts of the 21 counties that make up the Archdiocese. The goal of this pastoral planning effort has been to use the limited resources, especially our priests, wisely and to help build vibrant communal and spiritual life in the parishes. Sometimes achieving that goal requires lowering the number of parishes that operate within the Archdiocese.
In September 2006, the Strategic Planning Task Force for what was then the St. Marys Pastoral Region, comprised of the priests and some lay representatives of the faithful in the region, recommended that St. Joseph Parish, Lillis, be merged with Annunciation Parish in Frankfort. No action was taken on that recommendation at that time. In July 2008, the Strategic Planning Task Force for the Nemaha-Marshall Pastoral Region provided recommendations for parish configurations as the number of priests serving the region declined. One of those recommendations included the closure of St. Joseph Parish.
According to Canon 515.2 of the Code of Canon Law: “The diocesan bishop alone is competent to erect, suppress, or alter parishes.” The Second Vatican Council, in its Decree on the Bishops’ Pastoral Office in the Church (“Christus Dominus”), no. 32, teaches that in creating or in any way changing the status of a parish, the bishop is to be motivated by his concern for the salvation of souls. After hearing the Presbyteral Council (the archbishop’s council of priest advisors) as required by Canon 515.2, after discussing with them how to use the limited resources so as to best continue the work of being an instrument of Jesus for the salvation of souls, and after much prayer and reflection, considering the prior recommendations of the regional pastoral planning processes, and after consulting with the local pastors, I hereby take the following action:
I, the undersigned archbishop of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, in virtue of my pastoral office and in conformity with the Code of Canon Law, after consultation with the Presbyteral Council in accord with the norm of law on Jan. 19, 2011, and again on May 25, 2011, and after hearing, through the vicar general, concerns of affected parishioners, do hereby decree that St. Joseph Parish, Lillis, is suppressed and the surrounding parishes of Annunciation in Frankfort, St. Vincent de Paul in Onaga, St. Patrick in Corning, and St. Columbkille in Blaine shall be altered as defined in the appendix to this decree, effective July 8, 2011.
Additionally, I empower Father Pat Sullivan, currently the parochial administrator of St. Joseph Parish, to establish and chair a commission comprised of parishioners from St. Joseph for the purpose of bringing recommendations to me concerning the disposition of the parish buildings, land and other assets in accord with the prescriptions of canon law, no later than Oct. 8, 2011.
I invite the support of the local pastors in assisting the parishioners of St. Joseph as they integrate with surrounding parishes. I appeal to the parishioners of all the involved parishes to welcome the new members and to work enthusiastically with their pastors to build vibrant and prayerful faith communities where the Gospel is proclaimed and lived so that the life of the church in the Nemaha-Marshall Pastoral Region will thrive. With the help of Almighty God and with the aid of the prayers of the Immaculate Blessed Virgin Mary, patroness of the Archdiocese, may the truth and love of Jesus Christ be made evermore present to individuals, families and the communities that reside there.
Most Reverend Joseph F. Naumann
Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas
Given on the 28th day of June, 2011, at the Chancery in Kansas City, Kansas.
Reverend John A. Riley, Chancellor