Unveiling of Conceptual Church Renderings St. Jerome Catholic Church Unveiled after Masses on December 21 and 22, 2013 Given by Fr. Eric Schild, Pastor
Advent is a time of preparation and excitement for the celebration of Christmas. In a similar way, we have been preparing for over a year as a parish to arrive at this day. Much time, energy, consultation and preparation has gone into today as we unveil to you the conceptual drawings of what our church can become in the near future. In fact, I may be even more excited than our children on Christmas morning when they wake up at ungodly hours of the morning to open their presents!
Before we begin, I want to thank you for making this parish the amazing community of faith that it is. We are growing and flourishing. Mass attendance is up by approximately 150 people each weekend over the past year and half. Our RCIA program is the highest we have ever seen at 15. While some churches and institutions are trying to manage decline, we at St. Jerome are planning for the future because the future is bright! That is due to you. Priests come and go. But you remain. And the only reason that I am up here today is because of the commitment that you have shown to this parish – whether you have been here since the beginning or just arrived a month ago. This is an awesome community and I feel blessed everyday to be a part of it. Thank you!
When I first arrived as pastor nearly a year and half ago, I encountered some situations that needed addressed. Debt, maintenance issues, excess space that wasn’t being used, etc. Almost immediately, if I was to be a good steward of our resources, I knew I had to address some of our issues and to hear what you, the parishioners, had to say. This happened through the neighborhood meetings that were hosted when I first arrived. I also heard from parishioners who stopped me after Mass. I listened to the finance council and pastoral council. I also formed a steering committee to help me to know what is best for this parish since again, priests come and go, but you will remain and know this parish better than I do. And I believe it is only right and fair for me as your pastor to do what is best for this parish after hearing from you.
In the midst of all the planning for the future, we have done many updates to our parish thanks to you. The parish hall and gymnasium have been updated. Immediate maintenance needs have been accomplished. The budget has been balanced. And we have submitted a proposal to the diocese to pay off our debt from our operating budget over the next 10 years.
But one thing remains and it is the most important part of St. Jerome Parish. It is the place that keeps this community glued together. It is the place that has provided comfort to grieving families and joy to newly married couples and couples who have newborn babies. And it is the place that we encounter our living Lord in the Eucharist each week. It is our church. And as the Catholic Church teaches, this is the closest place that we can come to heaven while still on this earth. If we truly believe what we celebrate, then we must not only maintain our church building but also make sure it is as beautiful as possible because it reflects our belief in God. According to Built of Living Stones, the document from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that guides the building and renovation of churches:
Churches, therefore, must be places "suited to sacred celebrations," "dignified," and beautiful. Their suitability for worship is determined by their ability through the architectural design of space and the application of artistic gifts to embody God's initiative and the community's faithful response. Church buildings and the religious artworks that beautify them are forms of worship themselves and both inspire and reflect the prayer of the community as well as the inner life of grace. Conversely, church buildings and religious artifacts that are trivial, contrived, or lack beauty can detract from the community's liturgy. Architecture and art become the joint work of the Holy Spirit and the local community, that of preparing human hearts to receive God's word and to enter more fully into communion with God.
We owe our very best to God because he gave his very best to us: his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. For centuries, the people of God have built beautiful churches to honor the God who has given them so much and also to help us enter more fully into communion with Him so that we take his love into the world. In fact, St. John Vianney once said that poverty must stop at the communion rail because our churches should reflect our very best. And when we are fed and nourished in our churches, it is then that we do the Lord’s work of feeding the poor, clothing the naked, and taking Christ into the world.
Therefore, the steering committee, the finance council and the pastoral council in conjunction with our architect, Munger and Munger, Bishop Blair (prior to his departure), and Monsignor Singler, the Director of Divine Worship for our diocese all believe that our church needs to be renovated in two distinct ways:
Structural necessities – If we do not fix these issues, our church building will continue to decay and crumble. These are the things that, much like your house, have to be done in order preserve what you have worked so hard to achieve over the past 50 years. Our roof needs replaced as it leaks. Our plumbing is problematic and some of our sinks cannot even be used. Electrical needs updating. Paint is falling off the walls. Doors are rusting. The carpet is buckling. Bathrooms are not suited for hundreds of people. The sacristies and the confessional are not even heated. And many of our sick, elderly and pregnant parishioners cannot attend mass here during the summer because of the extreme heat and humidity. Also, the building is not fully handicap accessible which goes directly against the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Church.
Things that make our church suited to sacred celebrations, dignified and beautiful in accordance with our Church. These are the types of things that make us realize that what we do here is something heavenly and it raises our minds and hearts to Christ. These are the things that make our church look and feel a bit more “churchy,” especially since this building was never intended to be a church. Now it is time for this building to finally be made into what a church is envisioned to be by our Roman Catholic Church.
Much work and effort has gone into this proposal. I know everyone is wondering the price of all of this. The contractor projects this to be a $900,000.00 project. And we can do it! It will take everyone chipping in but we can do it and we must do it if we want our church to be around for our kids and grandkids.
I know that capital projects like this are met with many different opinions. Please know that I have prayed long and hard over this and have consulted with many people. And I wouldn’t do this if I truly didn’t believe it was worth it. It will add life, energy and people to our parish. And it will enliven the faith of this community for decades to come.
The steering committee would like your feedback on these plans. One way to do this will be through parish meetings that we will conduct in the new year. Another way will be through comment cards that we will make available in the near future. If you have immediate feedback, there is also an email address that you can send your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org. This email address and the detailed description of the renovation plans can be found on our website: www.stjeromewalbridge.org.
We will ask you to pledge towards this campaign sometime in the near future and more details will be coming. Please take the time to look at the display boards in the back of church and then offer your feedback – both positive comments and concerns. Regarding the timeline of this project, it will all be dependant on how quickly we can raise the money in accordance with diocesan policies.
This is an exciting time to be a part of St. Jerome Parish and all of us will be needed to make our church building into what it can become.
I leave you with one anecdotal story. I was speaking to a group of priests about this project recently at Bishop Blair’s going away celebration. One of the priests very candidly looked and me and said: “Do you really think that St. Jerome Parish can do that?” And I answered him by saying, “Please don’t ever doubt the people of St. Jerome who love their parish more than you could ever know.”
I look forward to continuing to journey with all of you in this project. Let us pray that God’s will be done and that we will respond to His will.
St. Jerome Catholic Church 300 Warner Street Walbridge, Ohio 43465 Phone: (419)666-2857 Fax: (419)661-2280 email@example.com
Weekend Masses Schedule Saturday Vigil: 4:30pm Sunday: 8am and 10am
Daily Masses Schedule Tuesday - Friday: 8am
Reconciliation Schedule Saturday: 3:30pm - 4pm
Rosary Tuesday - Friday: 8:30am
Parish Office Hours Monday through Friday: 8:30am to 12:30 pm Closed for Lunch (12:30pm to 1:30pm) 1:30pm to 4:30pm