Standing before the many issues at Saint Charles Borromeo Parish might be like standing before many mountains: I’m concerned with loose rock, sharp edges, difficult trajectories, and a seemingly impossible chance of reaching the destination. Some of the mountains here are material, like the money problems and buildings issues, but many others are spiritual and more difficult to define. I realized quickly that we had to start with what can be seen while praying that our invisible concerns will be revitalized alongside the visible ones. Like anyone determined to climb, I knew I just had to begin by going forward.
Members from parishes I had formerly served contributed generously by repairing the rectory and helping me settle in during my initial months—soon they passed the baton to members of SCB who had, for the most part, been in the dark about the dire situation of their own parish. As a community, we need to move beyond the rectory and address the long list of other physical needs: a leaking roof over the church, archaic windows in the school, a parish office that is crumbling, a tiny vestibule inadequate for people to gather, no elevator for elderly or physically disabled parishioners to get from church to hall. As those capital needs are addressed, we can also deal with much bigger issues: our school, catechesis to all parishioners, evangelization within our neighborhood, service to the surrounding community, etc.
So in December, we embarked upon a capital campaign to repair our structures as we rebuild our community. Here is the current status of the dollars involved in scaling this first mountain. There are four roofs that need to be replaced, two that cover the church and two that are adjoined; it will cost about $200,000 to do this work. The replacement of the school windows is also around $200,000. I am told that it will cost approximately $100,000 to raze the parish office building and about $500,000 to expand our tiny vestibule into a gathering space and add the parish offices there, as well as an elevator; the cost to purchase and install the elevator would be an additional $200,000. Our goal, therefore, is to raise $1.2 million to accomplish these capital improvements.
It was by divine grace, perhaps, that a very generous family stepped forward to match up to $500,000 in contributions; it is their sincere intention to give incentive to parishioners, to stabilize our community, to sustain our school, and to strength the valuable Catholic presence in the northland. To date, we have received about $100,000 in donations from parishioners, $200,000 from outsiders, and $400,000 in pledges; if the pledges materialize we will receive the matching gift and be well on our way to ascending a major peak. I am exhilarated by my first glimpse from high above. I am confident that we can hike onward and upward.
~Fr. Don Farnan