Update on the incorporation of parishes
May 23, 2022
GAYLORD, MICHIGAN — In September 2020, Bishop Walter A. Hurley, then Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Gaylord, announced that the process of parish incorporation was underway. This process involved incorporating every parish in the diocese as a Michigan nonprofit corporation, aligning the civil law structure with the ecclesiastical or church structures.
This incorporation process has now been ongoing for several months, and Bishop Jeffrey J. Walsh shares the following update:
“As Bishop Hurley conveyed when this process began, the Holy See has requested that dioceses pursue parish incorporation since 1911. This is the civil law structure that most accurately reflects ecclesiastical law and theology, and this is the best way of ensuring that the rights of parishes regarding church property are respected in both church law and civil law.
“Much has been accomplished in a short time, and to date, all our parishes are separately incorporated; the articles of incorporation have been completed and filed with the State of Michigan; and properties have been transferred to the parish corporations. As we move into the second year of operating our parish incorporations, I have asked Bishop Hurley to continue to assist me in a consultative role in matters relating to the parish corporations, and our Chancellor, Ms. Julie Erhardt, will continue to be the principal point of contact. Together, they will continue working with our parishes to keep the process as simple as possible while observing carefully all civil and canonical requirements.
“While separately incorporating our parishes does not greatly impact the day-to-day operations of our parishes, the incorporation process is very comprehensive and has taken a great deal of time and effort. I want to thank all who have been involved, and I am especially grateful to our staff and the leadership in our parishes who worked to achieve this. As we work to follow the guidance of the Holy See, know that your service is greatly appreciated, and the local Church will be strengthened because of it.”
Incorporation of parishes
September 11, 2020
GAYLORD, MICHIGAN — Bishop Walter A. Hurley, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Gaylord, has announced that the process of parish incorporation is underway; this process will incorporate every parish in the diocese as a Michigan nonprofit corporation.
The incorporation of diocesan parishes aligns the civil law structure with the ecclesiastical or church structures. According to church law and theology, each parish and diocese has its own unique set of rights and responsibilities, including the obligation to administer church property. The separate incorporation of parishes is the civil law structure that most accurately reflects ecclesiastical law and theology. Creating nonprofit parish corporations is the simplest and most effective way of ensuring that the rights of parishes regarding church property are respected, not only in church law, but in civil law.
Since 1911, the Holy See has requested that dioceses pursue parish incorporation, and many parishes in dioceses in the United States have long been incorporated, including some of the dioceses here in Michigan in recent times. This process in the Diocese of Gaylord begins after consultation with the College of Consultors and Finance Council of the diocese, and with their support and encouragement.
Bishop Hurley stated, “I am pleased that this process is underway in the Diocese of Gaylord — while this incorporation project won’t greatly alter the day-to-day for our pastors and their churches, it is of great significance that we align their civil law structure with that of the Church. This is a prudent task, one that we look forward to completing here in this diocese. I remain grateful for all our pastors and leaders, for the great work they are doing to meet the needs of their people, and I am thankful for their engagement in this endeavor for the greater good of the diocese as a whole.”
The diocese has shared information [below], both to inform about the process and to answer common questions.