Cleansing Fire has posted about Providence Housing Development Corporation's possible plans for our beautiful church. The Catholic Courier published an article today about it.
There is a little bit of good news here. First, although PHDC has "entered into purchase offers" for St. Vincent's (and another parish church, Holy Rosary), to our knowledge there has not been an announcement from Bishop Clark of formal acceptance of the recommendation to sell our church.
Second, PHDC did not apply for affordable housing funding for redeveloping St. Vincent's by the February deadline.
The Courier quotes a letter to parishioners dated Oct. 30, 2010 that said, ""(The sale) will substantially reduce expenses, move the parish towards one quality worship site, and strengthen the Catholic community in our area," stated an Oct. 30 letter to parishioners from parish leaders. "It is one big step toward averting financial collapse.""
The best way to "substantially reduce expenses" is to cut staff. As most readers know, about two-thirds of collections go to paying salaries and benefits in our parish. St. Vincent's is in good shape, even though leadership has deferred maintenance for years on all church properties. Our parish has no debt. We run a deficit budget only because leadership chooses to do so.
The needed repairs and maintenance at St. Mary's hardly recommend it as a "quality worship site" at this point in time. It is in fact, the one church of the three remaining that needs extensive and expensive repairs--especially in contrast to the others.
And once again, to suggest that selling our church is "one big step toward averting financial collapse" is frankly, ludicrous. Since, as all concerned admit, it will take years for the sale to be completed, 'averting financial collapse' cannot be the major factor in selling St. Vincent's. As mentioned above, cutting staff is one way to quickly cut costs.
Also, as has been stated, the only parish property that currently brings income (other than collections) to the parish is St. Vincent's (which collects about $20,000 a year in rents from the convent).
If only parish leadership would make a good faith effort to fund raise, to balance the budget, and to plan a capital campaign for upcoming needed improvements! Again, fundraising income in our parish has dropped from 6% to 1% in the last few years.
One more thing. PHDC is still in the "process of drafting concepts for the Corning site, and details of how buildings would be used have not been finalized." Didn't the sale offer say that the property would be redeveloped for senior--and only senior--housing? Perhaps they are meaning just exactly how each building would be used. Or not used. Remember, the first offer was not for the church, but for the school and convent.