DECREE FOR ST. MARY, OTO
By the Grace of God and the Favor of the Apostolic See
Bishop of Sioux City
The church building that once served the Parish of Saint Mary Church in Oto, in Woodbury County, Iowa, dates from 1911 and was the locus of that community’s existence. With the pending suppression of the Parish of Saint Mary in Oto, this same church building, located within the town of Oto, is no longer usable as a worship center for the Catholic faithful. Similarly, because of demographic changes by which the rural population of that area has substantially declined, it is also improbable that the church building could be converted to secular usage.
The wise counsel of those who have been entrusted with the care of this church building suggests that all the items of sacred usage and religious decoration that can be removed might best be employed in other parish churches, oratories or private chapels in this or another diocese, and that, following the proper format for alienation of such property, they might be sold or donated to such parishes, oratories and/or private chapels. Further, that same counsel suggests that all other personal property belonging to the former Parish of Saint Mary Church in Oto, in Woodbury County, Iowa, should be sold. Finally, it is recommended that the real property of the aforementioned former Parish of Saint Mary Church in Oto, in Woodbury County, Iowa, be sold to private ownership.
According to canon 1222, §2 of the Code of Canon Law, “where … grave reasons suggest that a particular church should no longer be used for divine worship, the diocesan Bishop may allow it to be used for a secular but not unbecoming purpose.”
Therefore, having consulted the Presbyteral Council of the Diocese of Sioux City according to the provision of the same canon noted above, there being none who could “lawfully claim rights over that church” building, and “the good of souls” not being harmed by such an act:
I hereby decree that the canonically erected parish of Saint Mary Church in Oto, in Woodbury County, Iowa, shall be suppressed as of July 1, 2017. I hereby also decree that the church building of the former Parish of Saint Mary Church in Oto, in Woodbury County, Iowa, is no longer to be used for divine worship and is hereby reduced to secular status. Further, all movable objects of a sacred nature and/or religious design are to be removed and, according to the proper form for alienation of such property, are to be sold or donated to other parish churches, oratories and/or private chapels in this or another diocese. Further, that any remaining personal property of a non-sacred or non-religious type is to be sold. Finally, that the real property of the former Parish of Saint Mary Church in Oto, in Woodbury County, Iowa, with the exception of the former parish cemetery, is to be properly disposed of from ecclesiastical ownership to private ownership, according to the proper form of alienation of property.
I further declare that all of the registered households will be notified by mail and public promulgation of the parish closure. Each registered household will receive a letter that will include a copy of the promulgated decree and a statement of intent. The statement of intent will invite all registered households to indicate, in writing, where they intend to register their household. All completed letters of intent must be submitted within 45 days from the date of public promulgation to the Diocesan Office of Pastoral Planning. All of the assets of a closing parish must be inventoried (real property, investments, restricted funds, and possessions). All parish indebtedness must be reconciled. Remaining parish assets will be pro-rated and divided in accordance with the submitted household letters of intent. Each receiving parish will acquire their portion of the closing parish assets in accordance with the percentage of newly registered transferring households.
I further decree that, according to the requirements of canon law, those who are directly and principally affected by this decree, that is, those adults who were registered as parishioners of the former Parish of Saint Mary Church in Oto, in Woodbury County, Iowa, at the time of its closure, or those who have a vested interest in this matter by virtue of prior registration, family membership, personal relationship and/or past association, shall have the right of recourse against this decree and may lodge an appeal against this decree within thirty (30) continuous day of its publication in The Catholic Globe, official newspaper of the Diocese of Sioux City.
Given in the Central Catholic Offices of the Diocese of Sioux City on this 26th day of May, 2017.
Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City
Deacon David Lopez, Ph.D.