TO THE LAITY, RELIGIOUS, AND CLERGY OF THE DIOCESE OF GALLUP
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ Jesus:
As we embark on a new year and continue on our journey to reorganize our Diocese through the Chapter 11 process and bring healing to those who have been harmed, I wanted to reach out and communicate what has happened in the Chapter 11 case and what you might expect in the coming months. I would like to thank all of you again for your support of the Diocese of Gallup. It is with your support and prayers that the work of the Church and our ability to provide for those who are hurting and so in need is made possible.
Many of you may have received legal notices from our attorneys or the Bankruptcy Court and may wonder why you are getting these notices or you might have seen the legal filings on the Diocese’s website and wondered what they are. I have learned through this process that the law requires that certain people get notices of certain filings in the Chapter 11. There may be some of you who have pledged money to the Diocese which was unpaid on the date we filed the reorganization, there may be some of you to whom the Diocese owes money, there may be some of you who have children who attend Sacred Heart School, Gallup, there may be some of you with whom the Diocese has done business in the past or there may be some of you that have some business with or relationship with the Diocese that the law requires that we give you notice. The law requires all of these categories of people to receive certain notices. If you have any questions or concerns about why you have received information from our lawyers or the Bankruptcy Court or think you should have received notice but did not, please contact our lawyers or Suzanne Hammons, our communications director in the Chancery, and they will answer your questions. If you want to speak to one of our lawyers, you can call (or send an email) to Lori Winkelman. Her phone number is 602-229-5452 and her email address is [email protected].
As you know, we filed for reorganization on November 12, 2013. Since that time our lawyers have been primarily dealing with matters that are required at the start of a case, such as compiling the complete list of assets and liabilities of the Diocese and making sure that the Diocese can continue operating after the filing of the Chapter 11 case. Part of this process has included obtaining permission from the Bankruptcy Court to allow the Diocese to honor its commitment to provide certain benefits to its employees and to the priests in this Diocese. Also, in December, Chris Linscott, whose firm we retained to help us with the financial aspects of the Diocese, and I appeared in Albuquerque and answered questions at a meeting of creditors. Some of you who are receiving notices from our lawyers or the Bankruptcy Court probably received notice of this meeting.
Also, a committee of those who were abused has been appointed as part of the Chapter II process and they will act in the Chapter 11 case on behalf of all those who were harmed in the Diocese. The committee is retaining counsel and we hope to meet with the committee and its counsel soon and see if we can work collaboratively to present a plan that will equitably compensate those who have been abused and at the same time allow the Diocese to continue its very important mission and ministry. Our desire is to move the process along and try to do so cooperatively in order to preserve the assets that might be available to fund a plan to compensate those who were abused. Since the Diocese is required by the Bankruptcy Code to not only pay for its attorneys but also to pay for the committee’s attorneys, we are committed to trying to resolve our differences as soon as possible and agree on a plan that can be approved by the Bankruptcy Court. We expect that any such plan will not only provide for a way to equitably compensate those who were harmed but will also recognize the importance of the Diocese being able to continue its mission and ministry and the important programs to protect our children.
We will also shortly be asking the Bankruptcy Court to approve a date by which all creditors, including those who have been abused and believe they have claims against the Diocese of Gallup, to come forward and make their claims known. The process will have to be approved by the Bankruptcy Court and you will hear more about this in the coming month.
It seems like a long time has passed since the Diocese filed for reorganization, but I am reminded it has only been two months and we are still early in the process. Nevertheless, our goal in embarking on this process remains the same, and I am steadfast in my determination that we will find a way to equitably compensate those who have been abused in our Diocese and still continue the important mission and ministry of the Church, including sustaining and instituting programs that educate our workers and our children and work to prevent abuse so these acts cannot occur again in this Diocese.
As I said before, we fully realize our responsibility to heal the hurt of those who were abused. We also realize our responsibility to continue the mission that we believe we have received from Jesus Christ: to provide spiritual care, to educate children in the faith, to feed, clothe, and shelter the needy, and to advocate for the least among us. We believe that continuing this mission is essential to our communities and is an expression of our very being as Catholics. I again invite you to write me to share your reactions or questions about the process, all along the way.
Please continue to pray. Please pray for one another, and for those among us who are hurting.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Most Rev. James S. Wall
Bishop of Gallup