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Chapel Status Change

Will the church have a particular name?

Yes, we are giving it the title “Our Lady of the Angels” since this little church in
the valley below Assisi was the favorite church of St Francis. St. Francis
discovered his vocation in this church. St. Clare offered herself to God in this
church before the establishment of her community. Devotion to Mary under this The Casa chapel officially
title has been popular in the Franciscan Order since the official establishment of the
Order in April of 1209.
becomes a church!
Who are community members? It is with great joy that the Franciscan community is able to announce to you that
We will be asking people to sign up for a communal roster to foster communication the Franciscan Renewal Center’s chapel is about to receive a new status in the
and a sense of belonging with the conventual church community. Without a Diocese of Phoenix. Thanks to the efforts of our Provincial, Fr. Mel Jurisich,
communal roster, we do not have a way of knowing who comes to Sunday Mass Bishop Thomas Olmsted and our very own, Br. Joseph Schwab, Executive
here. As with our mailing list, this list is not given to anyone. Director, the Casa’s chapel will change from its current classification as a
“semi-private oratory,” to the more useful status of a “conventual church.” No, not
In conclusion, we are very pleased with this new designation for our chapel and in conventional. No one has ever accused us of being conventional. The word is
the coming weeks we will be scheduling the official dedication of our new church. conventual.
We greatly appreciate the cooperative efforts of the diocese in effecting this change
and look forward to continuing the great evangelization and outreach work we all This classification is unique in the diocese, and will clarify the role of the Casa
do together. within the diocese. This new status will be accompanied by a few very minor
changes, but those will not be noticeable to you for the most part.

To help us better understand the language and benefits of our new status, we have
prepared some FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) that should cover the
essentials. For instance:

What is a conventual church?

Churches are conventual when they belong to the convent of the religious
community (in this case, the Franciscans) rather than to the diocese. We do not
belong to the diocese, nor will we belong to the diocese under the new designation.
We will continue to belong to the Franciscan community, and continue our
cooperative partnership with the mission of the diocese.

So we would be different from a Diocesan church or parish?

We would be a church that belongs to the Franciscan Order. A parish would be
governed by the diocese rather than the Franciscan Order. It would create
additional financial and ministerial obligations with the diocese. A conventual
church is not a parish church, and is guided by the religious order—for the Casa the
Original icon of Our Lady of the Angels in the Portiuncula,
painted by Hilary of Viterbo in the 14th century Franciscans—in its mission and ministries.
Why are we making this change? What kind of authority will Church law grant the bishop over the Casa and
In discussing the role of the Casa within the larger Church, Bishop Olmsted its liturgies?
suggested we clarify the canonical status of our chapel. The friars offered the There will be no change in the present status. The bishop presently has and will
conventual church solution to Bishop Olmsted’s request. The bishop suggested, continue to have authority over the practice and teaching of faith, liturgy, and
and Fr. Mel Jurisich agreed, that it was in the best interests of the Casa worship morals at the Casa as long as the general public comes here.
community to provide them with the right to worship at the Casa rather than
merely permission of the local Franciscans. It simply clarifies the status of the Who decides the kind of work the Casa engages in?
Casa chapel relative to our worship community and local diocesan churches. There will be no change in our present status. Only the Franciscan Order has a
right to determine the identity and mission of the Renewal Center, but this is done
What have we been up to now? in consultation with the bishop so that ministerial goals are not at odds. (Canon
Technically, we have been a “semi-private oratory,” commonly referred to as a 678.3) Our work and that of the diocese will be characterized by harmony and
chapel. cooperation.

What is the difference between an oratory, which the Casa chapel is currently, When I give money to the Sunday collection, where will the money go?
and the conventual church, which it will become? There will be no change in the present status. Money collected becomes property
of the Franciscan Province to be used at the Renewal Center. As has been done in
1. Technically, the oratory has always been a place of prayer reserved to the the past, a modest assessment for the expenses of running the chancery office
Franciscans alone. The faithful have been able to come by permission only. As (marriage tribunal, presbyteral council, office of religious, office of worship, etc.)
a conventual church, the faithful will have a right to attend and participate. and cathedral will be offered to the Diocese of Phoenix.

2. A church is dedicated. An oratory/chapel is blessed. Which sacraments will be offered?

There will be no change in the present status. For community members, Eucharist,
3. An oratory is established for the benefit of a specific group of people, rather marriage, reconciliation, and anointing of the sick would be available throughout
than the general public. In our case, in 1951 the oratory/chapel was established the year. Sacraments of initiation for adults (baptism, first communion,
for the friars and for retreatants and others who might come. No one confirmation) would be offered at Easter. Communion to the sick in institutions is
anticipated the numbers of people who would attend Sunday Mass here. offered depending upon the ministerial decisions made by the parish in which the
institution is located.
Which are the advantages of our chapel becoming a conventual church?
Again, everyone would have a right to come here for Sunday Mass. As it now What about funerals?
stands, it's a granted permission, not a right assured by Canon Law and is subject At present, funerals are supposed to be offered in churches only, a right assured by
to the decision of the local Franciscans. And our status in the diocese--in terms of Canon Law. (cf. Canon 1225) The change in the present status will mean that
Canon Law--will be clarified. funerals will be available here by right, rather than through custom or by
Are there other conventual churches?
There are many in Europe and Latin America. The only other one we are aware of When the Casa chapel becomes a conventual church, may I still attend Mass,
in the USA is Assumption Church in Syracuse, run by the Conventual Franciscan even if I live within the boundaries of a parish?
Order. Abbey churches are in a similar position. So this status makes us very Yes. In the present Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1983, there is no
special. requirement for anyone to attend a parish church on Sunday or Holy Days of
Obligation. (Canon 1248.1)