Father Tirso

Last weekend, someone came up to me with concerns regarding the church floor project. I would like to take this time to offer some clarifications, knowing that if one person has such concerns, chances are others have similar questions or concerns.

For one, part of the concern was why we would focus on something cosmetic and not give attention to the structural needs of the church building, such as the roof and the exterior walls. The point was made that too many times in the past, parishes, together with the Archdiocese, have put off such major structural needs to the point that parishes have had to deal with the consequences years after the situation turned into a very serious need. To this effect, I offer some clarifications.

One thing that I forgot to mention to this concerned parishioner is the fact that the Archdiocese actually has been in the process of assessing major structural needs. Case in point, just last week a team was sent out to our parish to do a “building assessment.” The goal as to gather information regarding the current status of the interior and exterior of the building along with the equipment, such as electrical, boilers, etc. This is being done for ALL of the parishes in the Archdiocese with the goal of recognizing what major repairs might be needed within five to ten years from now. This process is all part of advanced planning so that parishes and the Archdiocese are not surprised at the last minute when major repairs are needed, and such repairs are deferred indefinitely due to lack of planning.

In regards, though, to the floor project in our church, it is estimated to cost about $40K. Why could that amount not be applied to the structural needs of the church? Again, the funds for this project have already been raised through the To Teach Who Christ Is campaign, which earmarked them specifically for this project as agreed upon by the entire parish when the campaign was first presented. As a responsible steward of those funds, it has become my responsibility as pastor to make certain that parishioners see the fruit of their generosity, using the funds for the purpose for which they were given.

To be clear, the church is currently in good shape. By the grace of God, there are no pressing issues yet with the church’s structure. Hopefully, it will be about five to ten years before any major or drastic repairs will be needed on the church. However, I recognize that we need to be prepared. The work on the church, the roof and exterior walls, will probably be close to $500K or maybe more. Even if we were to take the $40K for the floor project and apply it to the structural needs of the church building, it would only be a “drop in a huge bucket.” So, we do what we can for now, all the while coming up with a definite and clear plan to be ready when the major needs come.

To this effect, we will need a capital campaign to raise the funds for the structural needs of the church building. I wanted to hold such a campaign in connection with our 100th anniversary coming up in 2021. However, realizing that parishioners will only be finishing their pledges to the TTWCI campaign in 2020, I recognized some “breathing room” would be needed before starting another campaign. So, for the time being, we will do as much fund raising as we possibly can until such a time when we are ready for another capital campaign.

One other point I would like to make is in regards to the floor project being “cosmetic” versus an actual need. There is a reason why such things are, indeed, necessary. For example, the gardens surrounding our campus, which, by the way, I am still looking for volunteers to help with their maintenance, are important because they create a welcoming and inviting atmosphere in the neighborhood. If our campus looks inviting, the chances will be greater that people in the neighborhood will want to check out what is happening at SMM. Likewise, if the interior of our church can be updated in such a way as to highlight its inherent beauty, it can and will create a greater welcoming and inviting atmosphere in which people might, again, want to be a part of life here at SMM. In this way, the community can grow and we will have more opportunities to evangelize, that is, to share the Good News with people.

I am certain that these few words in this article may not be enough to assuage all of the concerns that some may have regarding the church floor project. But, I hope that we will all recognize the truth that our goal as a parish community is not simply a matter of building maintenance. Rather, our primary mission as a Christian family is to proclaim the Good News and do everything possible to bring people closer to God. And, yes, part of that mission requires us physically to create a welcoming and inviting atmosphere that will attract people rather than dissuade them, an atmosphere where the hearts, minds, bodies, and souls of all who come to us will be directed to the beauty of God.

Fr. Tirso S. Villaverde, Jr.

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