MILWAUKEE –– The Archdiocese of Milwaukee Catholic Cemetery Perpetual Care Trust filed a complaint June 28 as part of the Chapter 11 reorganization asking the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to recognize that its money is “held exclusively for the perpetual care of cemeteries and/or mausoleums.”
The filing was in response to the Creditor’s Committee’s intent to pursue the Trust’s funds as bankruptcy assets, according to a press statement issued June 28 from Godfrey & Kahn S.C., the law firm representing the Trust.
“If the Creditor’s Committee is successful, the Trust’s funds would be diverted from cemetery care and instead used to generally pay the archdiocese’s creditors,” the statement said. “In response, the Trust is seeking a federal court declaration that these funds are, and have always been, held in trust for those interred in the archdiocese’s cemeteries.”
Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, the trustee, noted in the statement the importance of having a clear decision from the court regarding the perpetual care of burial places and the money that has been held in the trust for decades.
“As Trustee of the Cemetery Perpetual Care Trust, it is my legal and moral obligation to ensure this happens. We are hopeful that the Creditor’s Committee supports this action on behalf of those who have gone before us as well as their families who remain,” the archbishop said in the statement.
The statement said that the Trust, a separate legal entity from the archdiocese, contains money from parishioners for the care and upkeep of the cemeteries and/or mausoleums, including All Saints, Calvary, Holy Cross, Holy Trinity, Mount Olivet, Resurrection, Saint Adalbert, Saint Joseph and the more than 500,000 deceased interred at these locations.
John Marek, chief financial officer for the archdiocese, wrote in an email to your Catholic Herald that the Milwaukee Archdiocese operates cemeteries and has been the service provider for the perpetual care of cemetery grounds, graves and crypts, but that it is reimbursed by the Cemetery Perpetual Care Trust.
“Individual families count on this care for the graves of their deceased loved ones,” said Marek. “The money from the Perpetual Care Trust allows the archdiocese to fulfill this responsibility.”
The statement said that the Committee of Unsecured Creditors, the lawsuit’s defendant, has about 30 days to make a formal response before Judge Susan Kelley sets a schedule for resolving the litigation.