Archdiocese takes back control of seminary

By Nestor Licanto
November 15, 2016

[with video]

The Archdiocese of Agana says it has taken back complete and unrestricted control of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary.  Legal documents were filed with the Department of Land Management on behalf of newly-appointed Archbishop Michael Byrnes that repeal a controversial 2011 consent decree by former Archbishop Anthony Apuron that essentially gave control of the multimillion dollar property to a board controlled by the Neocatechumenal Way.   

Archdiocese spokesman Father Jeff San Nicolas made the announcement, saying, "The legal filings abolished the RMS Board of Guarantors and replaced the current board of directors with Bishop Byrnes as the sole director, as well as designated him as the chairman, president and secretary of the RMS Corporation."

The legal authority cited is that Byrnes is now the corporation sole of RMS by virtue of his new appointment as archbishop of Agana. Apuron had used that same power to transfer control to the Neocatechumenal Way-controlled board.  And while the seminary is now back with the archdiocese, it has not yet decided what it will do with it.

"While the governance has changed the administration and the day-to-day operation has not changed," said Father San Nicolas.

But while the church says for now RMS will continue as it has, critics of Apuron and the NCW say the seminary has been used for the formation of off-island priests, not local priests which they believe it was intended for.  The seminary is also seen as one of the church's most valuable assets, with estimates ranging from $40 million to $70 million. 

And while it is now back under archdiocese control, it comes at a time when the church might have to defend against multiple lawsuits by former seminarians who have accused Apuron of child sexual abuse.

Father San Nicolas said, "It was made clear to us that all assets of the Archdiocese of Agana could potentially be subject to all the lawsuits that we anticipate coming. So there are no assets that are protected that we know of, so that would include the Redemptoris Matter Property,  the Yona property land."


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