Monday, October 7, 2013

Maintenance and the Sacred

Regarding caring for our parish churches and other buildings, Deacon Dean writes in the bulletin: "While these repairs are great to do, the overall condition of our facilities remains a big challenge. The Facility Council is currently arranging for a comprehensive envelope assessment of our major buildings to accurately assess the condition and forecast maintenance and repair cost to properly care for our buildings. Additional expenses will include capital projects such as tearing down the old convent at St. Mary Church, expanding the parking lot and improvements including new heating and air conditioning system. All these costs together will most likely be in excess of $2,000,000. However, before we plan, we need an accurate assessment."

Parishioners should ask who will be doing the comprehensive envelope assessment. These types of assessments (often for school buildings) are typically done by professionals along the lines described here:

“The facility assessment is a crucial part of the renovation process because it helps us understand our clients’ needs and tailor renovation recommendations to meet those needs,” said Lee Andrea, principal at SHW Group, one of the nation’s largest educational architectural and engineering firms. “Our architects and engineers work collaboratively to determine what areas of the building envelope and mechanical and electrical systems present the greatest opportunities for renovation at the highest return on investment.” 

 Prior to performing the physical evaluation, the architect and engineers work with district administrators, faculty and staff to assess how the building performs in its current state and determine what immediate changes can be made from an operations stance to improve the building’s performance. Many times, even the simplest changes can make a significant impact on energy savings. It is also important to understand how the building functions on a day-to-day basis so architects recommend changes that will provide a cohesive transition for user groups into the updated facility. 

 When the architects and engineers have a solid understanding of the building operations, they can move forward with the hands-on facility assessment to evaluate the building envelope, mechanical systems and electrical systems for both simple and large-scale upgrade opportunities. Even when focusing on building envelope upgrades, it is important that all systems are evaluated to understand how each affects another’s energy usage."

One can see that to do a thorough and proper assessment requires a great deal of forethought regarding how the particular buildings are and will be utilized going forward. It is hoped that this is clear and that parishioners as a whole and not simply the various council members are involved in the discussion and decision-making process of future usage of our churches, school, and other buildings. Additionally, the assessment should be made available in its entirety to parishioners, who will most likely be funding the cost of the assessment, as well as most of the capital expenses.

There was no mention of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, and the only mention of capital improvements was to St. Mary's. Will IHM and St. Vincent's be included in the envelope assessment?

 In the spirit of restoration, please watch this short film (28 minutes) about the spiritual and physical restoration of St. John Cantius in Chicago. The issues that have been overcome in that parish make the needs of All Saints Parish pale in comparison. Go here to watch the inspiring short film (be sure to scroll down the page).

If the parishioners in All Saints Parish do not hold fast to the Sacred, the parish will surely continue to decline. Financial health is important, but as long as a Protestant and modernist mindset dominates and suppresses its Catholic identity, the parish will not prosper.

It is high time to awaken from the soporific thinking of the last two decades. The experimentation in the liturgy, in pastoral leadership, and in parish clustering has proven to be a disaster.  The parish council has the authority to approach the bishop administrator and request a priest pastor model for the parish, which is what was agreed to many years ago when the four original parishes were clustered.

The clustering has not brought about what was promised--financial relief, and a vibrant and growing parish. Instead, the parish has lost nearly half its families, with many giving up the Faith entirely, while others attend parishes elsewhere. By every conceivable measurement, this is an epic fail.

But there is a cure. The Sacred.