October 10, 2014

Archbishop Tobin changes status of St. Denis Church in Jennings County

Criterion staff report

On Sept. 22, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin announced that he had relegated St. Denis Church in Jennings County to “profane but not sordid” use.

This is the phrasing used in canon law to refer to the process by which worship ceases to take place in a Catholic church building, and it is allowed to be used for other purposes. This includes the possible sale of a former church building.

Archbishop Tobin made his decision after consulting with the archdiocesan Presbyteral Council.

His decree regarding St. Denis Church took effect on Oct. 5. The church was the house of worship for the former St. Denis Parish in Jennings County, which was merged on June 6, 2013, with Immaculate Conception Parish in Millhousen. (See the decree here)

The merger was a part of the “Connected in the Spirit” planning process that has taken place in the Batesville and Terre Haute deaneries and the four deaneries in Indianapolis.

At the time that the merger took effect, the physical assets of St. Denis Parish were transferred to Immaculate Conception Parish.

Franciscan Sister Christine Ernstes, Immaculate Conception’s parish life coordinator, and Father John Meyer, its priest moderator, both requested the relegation of St. Denis Church to profane but not sordid use for a number of reasons, according to Archbishop Tobin’s decree.

The possible sale of the church would relieve Immaculate Conception Parish of a significant financial burden that it faced in maintaining it. Proceeds from the sale would also insure the upkeep of St. Denis Cemetery. The church is not being used for devotional or any other religious purpose.

The change in the status of St. Denis Church comes on the heels of Archbishop Tobin’s relegation of the former St. Malachy Church in Brownsburg and the former St. Mary Magdalene Church in New Marion to profane but not sordid use on Aug. 11.

The change in status of the former St. Malachy Church is related to the move of St. Malachy Parish in Brownsburg to a new location. The relegation of the former St. Mary Magdalene Church came after its parish had been merged with Prince of Peace Parish in Madison.

(To read the decrees regarding the change in status of these churches and other decrees related to the “Connected in the Spirit,” log on to www.archindy.org/connected.)

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