St. John parishioners appeal to Vatican

Lansing, MI – Members of an East Lansing Catholic parish have filed an appeal with the Vatican. They're asking the Vatican to overturn a decree by the Bishop of Lansing to merge their parish with another.

After more than 50 years as a parish, St. John's was downgraded to a student center on July first. All of its assets were transferred to St. Thomas Aquinas in East Lansing. The move was part of a plan to reconfigure parishes and address declining mass attendance in the Lansing Diocese. The group says they fear the downgrade will mean fewer programs, and they're worried about their future.

Last month, Lansing Bishop Earl Boyea rejected an appeal by a group opposed to the merger. Now, the group has taken its appeal a step further. Spokesman Sam Thomas says the Vatican has 90 days to respond. "If they don't respond to us within 90 days, then the answer is no, or they can also recommend that the Bishop rescind his decision. They can also recommend a compromise of some sorts," he says.

A spokesman for the Lansing Diocese says the merger will allow St. John's Student Center to better serve the needs of Michigan State University's Catholic community.