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 Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church, Christus Dominus, number 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. This teaching was expanded upon by Pope Paul VI in his apostolic letter, Ecclesiae Sanctae I, number 21, “Every possible effort should be made that parishes where, because of too great a population or too large a territory or for any cause whatsoever, apostolic activity can be exercised only with difficulty or less effectively, should be suitably divided or dismembered, as the circumstances require. And likewise parishes which are too small should be united as conditions and circumstances demand.”
The populations of Saint Henry and Sacred Heart parishes have decreased significantly in the past few decades. In recent years, the parishes have been served by one pastor. Both communities already work together in pastoral activities.
By extending the boundaries of Saint Henry Parish to include the territory of Sacred Heart Parish, a larger community of the faithful can come together as one. This change is intended to strengthen the community and its viability and vitality so that the Church’s presence and ministry in this area of Fort Wayne can be maintained. At the same time, with the alteration of Sacred Heart Parish to become a personal parish serving the community of those who worship according to the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, Sacred Heart Church will remain open.
On September 7, 2011, I convened the Presbyteral Council of the diocese for the purpose of consulting with them regarding an alteration in the territorial boundaries of Saint Henry Parish, Fort Wayne, Indiana, in conformity with canon 515.2. The matter was presented to the council for advice. After lengthy discussion, a consultative vote was taken. The advice of the Council, without a dissenting opinion, was for the Bishop to make the proposed alteration.
Therefore, after careful consideration of the advice of the Presbyteral Council as well as the input of pastors of each parish and the various members of the parish communities, I decree the following:
I, the undersigned Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, in virtue of my pastoral office and in conformity with the Code of Canon Law, do hereby decree, that, in accordance with the norm of canon 515.2, the territorial boundaries of Saint Henry Parish, Fort Wayne, Indiana, will be, excluding the physical property of Sacred Heart Church: Beginning at the corner of Lafayette Street and Oxford St. going east to Adams Central Road then south to Maples road then west to Lafayette St. and then north returning to Oxford St.
This change will take effect on Sunday, November 6, 2011.
Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades
Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend
September 27, 2011