Wednesday, Dec. 19 — A group of five community members opposed to a proposal to consolidate Cristo Rey Community Center and St. Vincent Catholic Charities met with the Cristo Rey board this morning and walked out as frustrated as they walked in.
Lorenzo Lopez, who is leading a group opposed to the consolidation, said the group hoped to accomplish three goals by attending a Cristo Rey board meeting this morning: Give the opposition group, which has been circulating a petition against the plan, a face; “adamantly” express the Hispanic community’s opposition to the consolidation; and try to get some answers to the questions outlined in several letters that they have sent to the leadership of the Catholic Diocese of Lansing and Cristo Rey administrators.
The petition being circulated by the group calls for Cristo Rey to continue as a “free-standing Latino agency, maintaining its original concept of Latino control and self-determination,” with “appropriate Latino leadership” and “a safe work environment for employees, clients and volunteers.” Read more on the petition here.
The group has asked for copies of the Cristo Rey board bylaws, a list of current board members, officers and committees, as well as the center’s personnel policies. Even after posing these questions — which they believe to be relatively simple — to the board directly, they still have no answers.
“They didn’t respond to any of our questions,” Elva Reyes said of the board meeting this morning.
“They have left the community in the dark,” added her husband, Rudy Reyes.
Diocese Spokesman Michael Diebold told City Pulse last week that he was “not aware” of any plans for diocese officials to meet with the group. He said Lansing Bishop Earl Boyea had asked the boards of Cristo Rey and St. Vincent Catholic Charities, “both of which are entities of the Diocese of Lansing, to come up with a consolidation plan. … The bishop’s wishes remain the same.”
Lopez said it’s obvious the Cristo Rey board will need to be pressured more before the community can get some answers about the consolidation plans and the inner workings of Cristo Rey.
“We made our points, but today shows how much more work we have to do,” he said.
The group plans to file a request under the state Freedom of Information Act to seek out answers to their questions, Lopez said. The group also plans on hosting an open community forum to discuss what little they know about the consolidation plan and their frustrations with the leadership of the Catholic Diocese and the Cristo Rey Board of Directors.