The first project I would like to mention is the state of the ceilings in the aisles of the church. As you can see (if you look up!) they are in sorry shape - water-stained, broken tiles and in a few places the tiles are starting to fall down. The ceilings in the cry rooms as well as in the shrine areas to the front of church aren’t looking much better and the time has come to replace them. Beginning in the next few weeks you will see at least one set of these tiles removed as the replacement process begins. The new ceilings in the aisles, the cry rooms and the shrine areas will be much more fitting for church and will also include new lighting for the Stations of the Cross, as well as the statues of the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph and the Sacred Heart in the shrine areas.
In addition to this work on the inside, you may also have noticed the beginning of some work on the outside. We have a truly beautiful campus here at St. Mary’s, unfortunately, the one area which has been neglected is the most visible part of our property – the corner of Crescent and Juneau. Over time, it has become overgrown and worn out. Over this spring and summer we will be landscaping that part of the property so that the beauty of that corner matches the beauty of the rest of our parish campus. Work has already begun by clearing out some of the old brush and a few trees to make space for the new design, which will also incorporate some of the standing trees that are already there. In addition, our school community has been busy raising money to fund, as a component of this, the creation of an outdoor learning space for the school children. This outdoor learning space will be another addition to the innovative ways our school teaches our children. Recently, we have added a MakerSpace, a Literacy Center, and a new Grade School Science Lab and this will be one more tool our teachers can use to educate our school children. Finally, along with this landscaping, we are also hoping to purchase new parish signs. If you have noticed our current signs, they are beaten up and weathered, with holes in them and repairs from where they have cracked in the past. It is our hope that all of this will be completed by the end of summer and in place for the beginning of the new school year.
I would also like to take this chance to fill you in on the upcoming Archdiocesan Capital Campaign. Over the past year or so the Archdiocese has been looking at the possibility of a capital campaign to provide needed funds for some of the ministries of the diocese, as well as to provide opportunities for individual parishes to benefit from some of the monies raised. With the approval of the Archbishop, a the campaign has been launched and each parish will be given an overall goal, with 60% of the funds staying at the parish level to be used for parish capital needs and with the other 40% going to support some of the needs of the Archdiocese. The campaign will unfold over two years or so with the parishes moving through the campaign in four separate groups. St. Mary’s has been asked to be part of the group that will begin in the second half of this year. You will be hearing more about this campaign in the coming months, but I wanted to alert you to it now. My own hope is that every parishioner can contribute in order to make this campaign a success. Along with this, the Archdiocese is also working with the Catholic Leadership Institute to conduct a survey of parishioners throughout the Archdiocese that will help give those who are leading archdiocesan planning a “snapshot” of where Catholics and parishes are at this moment in time to assist them in planning for the future. Everyone is invited to take part in helping the diocese compile this information. You can look in the bulletin for information on how to do so.
Finally, our hopes to retire the last of our parish debt look to be near fulfillment. We are on track, barring anything unforeseen, to retiring the last of our debt by the end of this fiscal year (June 30, 2020). This is truly noteworthy and will be the first time in over a decade that St. Mary’s is completely debt free. We have found ourselves in this position because of our Debt Retirement Appeal, which ran from 2012-2015, but also because some parishioners have continued to contribute to debt retirement even after the campaign finished. Their generosity not only helped us retire the debt sooner than initially anticipated, but also saved the parish money on interest over the life of the loan. I want to thank everyone who has contributed to retiring the debt and those who have continued to do so – if you are new to the parish or were not in a position to give in the past, you still can, as every extra dollar for debt retirement helps the entire parish! Thank you to all who have contributed and continue to contribute to the financial well-being of the parish!