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I am very excited to announce that we have launched the 3-year (36-month) pledge drive titled “Small Things with Great Love” to raise $1.3 million dollars for the benefit of our parish facilities. In fact, the past week or two we began with some individual visits and two small-group information nights. As of today, a number of us who were asked to pledge ahead of time have already committed to a total of ~200,000 dollars (15% of goal), showing that we are on track for success if we have a similar amount of commitment and support from all of us. Although this will require all of us to make significant sacrifices, it will be a great blessing to the parish.

Love can do all things. The most impossible tasks seem to it easy and sweet. You know well that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them. What, then, have we to fear?

- Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, the little flower. Letter to Celine, October 20, 1888

This is an exciting opportunity for our parish, so please allow me to explain to you as I have with the initial pledge-group some of the main projects that we are looking at. The largest portion of the funds raised will be toward something many of you are aware of: our church boiler which has been faithful for over six decades, decided to take a couple weekends off last winter. Judging by the coats I saw everyone wearing those days (not to mention the hats and gloves) I am sure this is something that everyone can be supportive of. We also will need to change our air-conditioning units, as these machines use a cooling technology that is not very environmentally friendly and the government is phasing it out. The initial quote I received for this was $450,000. This is the main reason I stand before you today, but I would like to share all the others as well.

The finance council recommended that we do a campaign once and do it right, so we looked at other items of deferred maintenance or general upkeep that could be part of a capital campaign.

First off, the Annual Bishop’s Appeal is still a need that we as a parish must contribute to for our wider church, and this year’s parish contribution will be included in the pledge drive so that we are not sending confusing and mixed signals by two campaigns at once. Next year, we will do the ABA as a separate commitment.

As we looked at parish needs, the focus was directed to the church interior which has not had a widespread project since the renovation of 1987. One of the things that came up was these lights, which are original like the boiler, and the wiring is very dried up and rotted off in places so that it is truly a hazard to our church. Our parish maintenance man has cut back the wiring multiple times. Instead of rewiring, I had the lighting specialists from Notre Dame come over when they were working on the basilica last winter/spring, and they gave us a proposal for lights that will be brighter, be dimmable, and shine light more generously than just down, allowing the church’s beautiful ceiling and stations of the cross to be more visible in these winter months. It would also make the sanctuary brighter, which is important for the lectors to read well at the ambo. I recently heard that the lights were going to be replaced decades ago but a leaky roof diverted funds to that more important project. I think it will be great to finally see this old dream brought to completion.

The carpet also needs replaced as it has served well these 31 years. But for the area where Communion is distributed (and the sanctuary) I would like to return to a hard surface similar to the church’s original set-up. This is so that the Most Precious Blood of Christ can be easily cleaned and properly cared for in the instance of a spill.

Something else I think we all could appreciate is new kneeler pads in our pews. The pews themselves, which were used when we purchased them, are in pretty good shape, but we have received some donations in the past for their refurbishing and I think it would look great to have them stained to match the beams and ceiling of our church.

Other ideas are not focused as much on current needs but are meant for the enhancing of our Eucharistic worship. Along lines with Fr. Tom’s revised proposals just over two years ago, the tabernacle will have a more substantial base for it, often nowadays called an altar of repose, allowing for a cleaner look in our sanctuary. The back wall will not be touched, and I have a drawing of what the altar potentially would look like (at least size-wise).

The choir will move about ten feet and trade places with the statue of Mary so that we have the devotional space in the front of church. This also allows the choir to be more connected with the congregation, facing more toward the altar, the focal point of our prayer. We could also consider moving the statue of Therese up here somewhere, since right now she is not so visible to us while we are at prayer.

In order to allow for easier access to the church from the chapel during the liturgy, we would install a permanent glass division as well as a door at the back of the chapel area. This also allows the area to be a temporary calming area when parents feel they need to use the space for a short time before returning to their pews. It could still also be used for our large Masses twice a year at Christmas and Easter.

Beneath the pews, under the carpet, we have hopes to install a relatively inexpensive audio-loop technology that works with hearing aids to allow for much clearer audio of the readings and music at Mass.

In the back of church, an info kiosk (probably movable) would be very helpful for both parishioners and visitors alike to have a central and conspicuous location to go for answers to any questions or concerns they have about involvement in the life of our parish, to pick up flyers, etc.

The last idea for the church is to create a priest vesting room in our current decoration storage area that can also serve as a second Confessional when needed.

Not too many years down the road, we can foresee two other significant expenses that will be essential: the roof of the parish center, which is now 18 years old, and the parking lot, which will need re-grading at parts, and a new surface after some more winter seasons.

I’m sure that was a lot to take in, and you may have only heard about some of these things in the past. Don’t worry, all this is going to be on the parish website for access anytime, anywhere. You can also see the table in the back of church.

Although we have asked several parishioners to come forward with their pledges beforehand (with some still discerning their finances to make an accurate pledge, we are not asking for pledges today from the rest of the parish. We want two weeks of information to help guide and direct your pledge process, and to give us time to think about how we can be a part of this important time in our parish.

This is an exciting opportunity for our parish to prepare itself for the decades to come, so that our worship space looks a little fresher and can continue to speak clearly about the vibrant life we have in the parish, making it an inviting space for guests who can more easily be brought into the community of faith and encounter Jesus here.  May we be driven by this initiative to continue our work of building God’s kingdom through small things with great love.

~Fr. Terry