Statement of the Diocese of Brooklyn Regarding Churches United

The New York Daily News article entitled “Cleric who fought land deal axed” published on November 27, 2008 is an example of shoddy reporting. No serious effort was made to contact the Diocese of Brooklyn or Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio to verify any of the claims found in the “story”.

Churches United was initially founded by local pastors of the Williamsburg cluster parishes (St. Peter and Paul, Epiphany, Transfiguration, Most Holy Trinity, Our Lady of Pompeii) to fight for affordable housing on behalf of the residents in the community. The parish “Members” acted to empower a Board of Directors with the expectation that the directors would provide fiduciary oversight and governance for the corporation.

Under the leadership of its Executive Director, Father Jim O’Shea, Churches United was able to further the interests of the Williamsburg Community. For his tireless efforts on behalf of the working poor, Father O’Shea, has won the highest praise of Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and civic leaders.

The by-laws of the Churches United Corporation require that a minimum of seven directors meet to establish a quorum. As of October 1, 2008 there were only five directors. Therefore, on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 the Corporation’s “members” unanimously determined, as is their right according to the by-laws, to dissolve the current Board of Directors. The members furthermore voted to act in the capacity of the directors until a new board could be formed.

In mid-September the pastors of the Williamsburg parishes indicated to Bishop DiMarzio that they were sincerely grateful for all of Father Jim O’Shea’s hard work on housing. Unfortunately, it was becoming clear that he was insensitive to the need for all people in the community to have access to affordable housing. The pastors of the Williamsburg parishes were desirous of forging relationships within the broader Williamsburg community.

Therefore, on Monday, November 24, 2008 the members of Churches United met. At that meeting there was strong consensus that it was necessary to move Churches United in a new direction. As a result, the members determined to request the resignation of Father O’Shea as the executive Director of Churches United.

At no time, did Bishop DiMarzio request the resignation of Father O’Shea from either Our Lady of Monserrate or Churches United. In fact, Father O’Shea continues to remain in his position at Our Lady of Monserrate. Motivated by pastoral concern for Father O’Shea the Bishop discussed with him many topics and communicated the decision of the Churches United board. Bishop DiMarzio commended him for his efforts and offered to assist Father O’Shea to find another ministry in the diocese.