Master Plan Update Part 2 of 2 – A Spiritual Reflection

Last week I started with the first of two reports to you – the Parish of St. Monica – on a number of campus projects that were completed over the summer, as well as other that are scheduled to be completed between now and Christmas. They included information about new roofs for the church and gym, redoing the stucco on the outside of the church building, plans for new concrete work around campus, the installation of new security doors, cameras and access equipment across the entire campus as well as work to the portico above the church building.

This week I’d like to complete this report by outlining what we’ve decided to do concerning the Youth Room, Hagenbach Room, First/Old School and school cafeteria.


YOUTH ROOM, FIRST (“OLD”) SCHOOL AND HAGENBACH ROOM. Decisions, budget considerations and timing of these three projects are intertwined. Preliminary engineering studies indicated that there are significant issues with the First/Old School building. These include the failing of the basic foundation of the building, mold remediation, a failing boiler and faulty plumbing for the heating system, water damage repair and the need for installation of a new concrete foundation under the auditorium. This doesn’t include the normal, electrical, window treatment and painting issues that would have to be addressed. Estimates for “repairing” the First/Old School ran in the neighborhood of over $950,000.


Considering the size and scope of the project, the iconic value of the building which is tied into an almost 100-year history of the St. Monica School, I solicited consultation and opinions from the parish by means of a “Town Hall” meeting, email correspondence, letters and one-one-one meetings. The overwhelming response was that we should be proud of the noble history of the St. Monica School. Nevertheless, parishioners also saw the need to bring this chapter of the parish to an honorable close, move forward into a different, and bright future and steer our limited funding into projects that would reflect the parish’s future rather than continue to pour limited funding into the past.  93% of respondents, in fact, said that it was time to finally take down the First/Old School.


The problem, however, is that this would cost in the neighborhood of $125,000. This would require funding that we simply do not have at this time. Status: Given all of these factors, the decision was made to “mothball” the First/Old School for now, see what develops in the parish over the next 12 months and revisit this issue next year.

YOUTH ROOM. Original budget: $25,000. Current estimate: $100,000. The original project envisioned an aesthetic and cosmetic updating of the Youth Room in the First/Old School with the addition of some new electronic/digital/AV/technology capabilities. With decision to “mothball” First/Old School, the need arose to move into the New School and reconstruct a new Youth Room using 3 rooms at end of the hall / 2nd floor. However, this decision entails a scope of work that is significantly more complex. This would include physical deconstruction of cinder- and other walls, building of new walls, installing new doors and frames as well as the original idea of providing state-of-the-art technology for the space. In addition, since some of the work will have to be done while Regina Luminis Academy is in session, some aspects will have to be done “second shift” – during times when the students are not in the building. This increased complexity naturally, and significantly, increased the cost of the project. Nevertheless, considering the importance and priority of faGKO orchitectsmily/youth for St. Monica, the decision was made to redirect Master Plan funding and go ahead with this project. Status: GKO Architects drawings complete. GKO hopes to bid out project by October 23 with contract signed soon afterwards. Project should be completed by mid-December.


HAGENBACH ROOM Original Budget: $50,000. Current estimate: $95,000.  Original project costs were estimated almost 3 years ago. Cost increases are due to inflation, a more robust economy (which, because of demand for construction, electronic and lighting work over past year, has seen contractors significantly increase their pricing) and additions to scope of work. “Hagenbach” is easily the most heavily used space on the campus. Considering the importance of this space for numerous initiatives, ministries and organizations of St. Monica, as well as the fact that the type of work mirrors the same type of work to be done in the new Youth Room, the decision was made to approve the additional funding for this project.  Status: GKO Architects should have drawings complete by October 11, bid out project by October 23 with contract signed soon afterwards. Project should be completed by mid-December.


So-Called “Cry Room”. In light of the renovations to the church over the past two years, Jason Carter and I recently met with a group of parents concerning the use of the space in the back of church. This is naturally a high priority area since it involves children but it is also an area that is currently used by adults as well as some of our elderly parishioners so it is a touchy dance to try and get a correct solution.

The original intention of a “cry room” was to provide a safe and comfortable space for parents to take especially young children who might be a little too loud or fidgety. The use of the space seems to have morphed away from its original intention. Some people go there saying that the close proximity of the speaker makes it is easier to hear. We upgraded the sound system and also provided individual hearing devices so that this could be addressed allowing people to stay in the main area of the church. We have seen some people in the cry room who seem to be under the weather or even sick and we wonder if they are using this space as a kind of a self-imposed “quarantine area.”  Although the intention is Noble, people know that children are often in that space so that staying home and not sharing germs with other younger parishioners would be the better choice. Then there are cases of some adults in that space where we have really questioned why they are there at all.

Our intention is to soon remove the pews and open the space up so that it is more user-friendly for the young people in the Parish thus returning the use of the area back to the original intention. We will place some chairs there for parents to be able to sit as well as putting in new ceramic tile which would be aesthetically pleasing as well as durable and functional. Finally we are looking into the possibility of putting in a small, child size table to allow small children to express their creativity by drawing or using religiously-based coloring books. Total cost of the project will probably run in the area of $4,000 to $9,000.




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