Renovations, Regina, and Re-envisioning
While summer is often a time when things slow down, you may have noticed activity picking up around Saint Monica – specifically in the Rectory and 1916 school building. The work in the Rectory – reorganization, redesign, and renovation of the parish office space – has been planned for some time. It was part of the funds raised as a result of our capital campaign and is fully funded (i.e. no money pulled from the operations budget). The work is progressing rapidly and should be complete by the end of summer. We look forward to welcoming our parishioners and visitors into a space that better serves the needs of our parish community and the Pastoral Team.
As mentioned above and by Father Zlock in a recent video to the parish, this buzz of activity also extends to the 1916 school building. Together with the 1958 building, we had a wonderful school which served the needs of Saint Monica’s students and families for nearly one hundred years. As a parish, we look back on this with great gratitude but also an acknowledgment that it was very painful – even devastating – to many of our families when the school closed in 2012. But throughout Scripture, we are reminded that the Lord always brings good out of pain and suffering. It is important for us to read “the signs of the times” at these moments and see what the Lord may be inviting us to – the opportunity for Him to do something new within and for us.
For the past several years, Saint Monica has had the opportunity to have the daily Catholic education of students present on our campus once again through the operation of Regina Luminis Academy (RLA). It is a fitting use for buildings constructed to educate and form students in the Faith. RLA’s student population continues to grow and their space/classroom needs have increased as well. Thus, Father Zlock, with the encouragement of both his leadership team, Finance Council, and various parishioners, discerned it prudent to accept a recent proposal from RLA to sign a lease extension for an additional three years. This extension expands their space usage to include the 1916 building.
So why have we as a parish entered into this long-term agreement with RLA? How will this affect our parish? What is the why – the strategy – behind this decision to also have the 1916 building included in this lease extension?
First, this new agreement enables Saint Monica to continue to partner with a Catholic school in forming and educating a new generation of Catholics.
Second, it provides the parish with some much needed financial resources. The financial commitment RLA has made to the parish is substantial. The renovations that Saint Monica is currently putting into the 1916 building are minimal and, like the Rectory, are paid for through the capital campaign funds (i.e. no drawing on reserves). Since these funds are designated for specific uses, we cannot use them to supplement the operations budget or other initiatives.
Third, the 1916 building is severely underutilized. While parish ministries like Outreach and partner organizations like the All Abilities Foundation have used it sporadically, there has not been a consistent, day-to-day use of the space for some time. RLA’s expansion into the building will ensure that this building will benefit students (some of whom are our own parishioners) and teachers daily for the majority of the year.
Finally, the necessary renovations before occupancy by RLA’s students and teachers present Saint Monica with the opportunity to do some upgrades and restoration to the 1916 building. In addition to preserving the structure, if and when RLA moves on from our campus, the parish has a building that can be put to use in service of the mission or for another entity.
Since the closure of the parish school, many ideas have been suggested for the use of our buildings, particularly the 1916 school. There was even a proposal to demolish the structure, which was rejected due to the expense involved and the loss of what is generally regarded as a beautiful, aesthetically pleasing structure. However, ideas must be guided by a strategic vision, which we as a parish are working on now through initiatives like the DMI focus groups and the setting of pastoral priorities. The three-year lease gives Father Zlock and Saint Monica time to discern and put together a strategic plan to maximize the use of our resources – buildings and otherwise – both in the short term and into the future.
Father and parish leadership want to make very clear that this new lease in no way lessens their commitment to providing Saint Monica’s ministries, organizations, and partners with the resources (storage, meeting space, financial, etc.) needed to continue ongoing ministry in service to the mission. The 1916 building will function as shared space, just as the 1958 building does. We may need to get creative at times, but we will make it work!
In the coming days, our ministry/organization coordinators will receive an email from Cathy Levine asking for dates/times/space requests for July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2022. It is crucial that if you wish to reserve space in the parish’s facilities, you submit your request now. Doing so will ensure that Cathy and the Pastoral Team can assist Father Zlock in ensuring the needs of our parishioners and volunteers are met in the coming year in the life of the parish.
We are living in extraordinary, historical times – both in our nation and in the Church. Yes, even in our parish. There are lots of adjustments and “new things” and changes asked of us. Change is hard. It’s scary. But it can also be exciting! It allows us to see what the Lord is inviting us to let go of or say “no” to so that we can embrace and say “yes” to the plan He has for us. It’s the reason we have been praying as a parish our Prayer for Discernment – so that we may know what way to walk in. As we go forward, should you have any questions about the use of our buildings and facilities, please direct them to Tom Phillips at email@example.com or 610-644-0110 ext. 133. Let us continue to pray for our parish, the Regina Luminis community, and for an openness to the Holy Spirit and how He is working in our lives!