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St. Monica: Recent Past – A Hopeful Future (Facilities, Part 1 of 2)

I have been having a conversation about the future of our parish of St. Monica. We have taken a look back over what has occurred over the past several years. We looked “Encountering Christ Through the Word, Through Liturgy and Through Serving Others.” This week we look at the temporal aspects of the parish.

When I first arrive at a new parish assignment, there are actions that I quickly schedule. One is an official audit by the archdiocese. One is a meeting of the Finance – and Pastoral Councils. A formal session with the staff as a whole is key as well as one-on-one meetings with all members of the staff. Soon after I arrived, I was introduced to members of the Facilities Committee. I was impressed with the foresight of St. Monica parish. This type of committee is rarely seen at most parishes.

We started walking around the campus. We noted what was broken. We saw what needed repair and what needed replacement. We noted what infrastructure was outdated. We ended up with 9 pages of items. We realized that this was going to be a bigger project than we had envisioned. Upon the recommendation of the Facilities Master PlanCommittee, we put out bids for a consultant. Mike Cappelletti, James Sandborn, Richard Annechini, Fred Pioggia joined with Frank Orman and Frank Pantano. Eventually, we engaged The Remington Group who came up with a 5-year “Master Plan.” They listed the needed projects and put together a time table. Next, Remington developed a “Request for Proposal” for an architect. GKO Architects rose to the top. Their work proposal was solid. They had an innovative approach on how to solicit parishioner input into the process. Their price was also the most attractive of the bidders.

We identified close to 70 separate projects. Many were repair and replace items. Some were renovations. Some involved new construction. Remington and GKO did a deep dive into the estimated costs of these projects. Estimates for completion of the projects varied – from $1.7 million to $12 million. New building projects were the main drivers of the Master Cost Figures.jpghigher cost estimates. This was a wide range of options. GKO and Remington developed a strategy to solicit opinions from parishioners. Both companies wanted to see what parishioners thought were the most important items to address. We offered a questionnaire on-line and in paper form. Afterward, parishioners were invited to a “Design Day.” In this exercise, colored depictions of the various buildings, renovations, and repair areas were provided. Teams of parishioners were asked to “build” a St. Monica campus that reflected their priorities. There was a high degree of agreement among parishioners. Top priorities included resources for the youth, necessary repairs, replacement of broken items, the church, what would be needed to enhance the liturgy, resources to enhance fellowship and socializing among parishioners, and the parish offices. There was also wide agreement on a general cost range that the parish felt it could handle.

Many parishioners agreed with the rationale for such an undertaking. The parish of St. Monica needed to look to- and plan for – the future. To have a future, the parish needed to act. St. Monica needed a “home” or a spiritual base. This would include investments into the spiritual, pastoral, liturgical and social programs of the parish. St. Monica also needed a “house.” This was the structure where such activities and programs could occur. Parishioners realized that the need was not cosmetic. The buildings had been heavily used over the past quarter-century. We needed to make significant investments. The entire venture was beyond any volunteer-basis approach. It was going to need a phased-in approach involving professionals over several years.

Parishioners needed to consider serious questions. What kinds of spiritual, pastoral, social and service programs should we offer to ensure the parish thrives in the future? The parish had identified some parish priorities. They were Youth/Families, Fellowship and Liturgy. How should facilities be modified to meet the demands of these priorities. How can the parish build to encourage, support and accommodate parish growth? In the end, parishioners identified about 50 priority areas and projects.

Next week we will examine how we financed these projects. We will also take a look at where we currently stand.

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