Proverbs 29:18 forewarns: “Where there is no vision, the people will perish.” Many of us hoped that the Year 20-20 would bring us that perfect vision for which our world deeply longs, but the coronavirus directed us to a different vision in which we were coerced to gaze inward and, in some ways, see who we are and where we’re headed.
July 1 will mark five years since I was assigned to Saint Charles Borromeo (SCB) Parish. In 2016 our faith community that was losing members in big waves had to reinvent itself. Our school that was being forced to close because of financial burdens had to reestablish itself. Our people who were worn out had to revitalize themselves. And they did! Through a capital campaign, we re-created our property, rehabilitated our structures, and renewed ourselves as God’ People, Christ’s Body, and the Holy Spirit’s Temple.
These five years of re-envisioning were challenging, yet also fun-filled. Our self-image at SCB had taken a big hit, but we are standing tall again. When I arrived, I told parishioners, “I cannot save your school…but you can…and I will support you in every way that I am able.” As our school enrollment and parish census grow while our property is maintained and finances stabilize, we can be grateful for our teamwork in turning things around. We trusted one another. It is time now to reinforce our strength and re-present our vision, so that we don’t fall prey to any future perishing that may lurk ahead.
As designated servant-leader, I am commissioned to proffer the next round of capital improvements. As is well known, the most successful and faithful parishes always have a capital campaign in motion. Ours will probably be a $4-5 million effort that includes adding a three-stop elevator in our academy, enhancing our Early Childhood Center (ECC), creating a food pantry/social service and multi-purpose center, expanding and rehabbing our Borromeo Hall kitchen, and addressing numerous maintenance issues that were deferred in past decades, as well as creating storage space. Our ECC is proving to be a major factor in reaching enrollment goals for school sustainability. Expansion and upgrades in-door and out, creation of a play center, exterior doorways, deck, restrooms, entrance, and play equipment will bolster this task. Our food pantry that is currently operating out of closets in Borromeo Hall needs a decent place to offer services that help dependent families move to greater independence. We hope to add a multi-purpose structure, including a center for events, near the beautiful prayer garden. During the ban on social gatherings, we have been renovating Borromeo Hall with flooring, lighting, structural repairs, drainage repairs, and a minor expansion; we would like to renovate and expand the kitchen next year, too. We also need to make masonry repairs to church and school buildings, the bell tower, and add school HVAC systems where they don’t exist, while also refurbishing The Commons. In addition, we want to build up our school endowment and create adequate storage for maintenance equipment and other needs.
It’s a challenging task to address these many needs, but I think we are up for it. In addition to the needs, we will discuss wants, e.g., purchasing nearby housing to serve as a more appropriate rectory while converting our current rectory to a ministry center for faith formation, replacing the church bell with a carillon system, adding pew cushions in our sanctuary, etc… Beth Harmon-Vaughan, our parish director of operations, can give you a complete list of repair and enhancement items, as well as our proposed maintenance schedule. We are grateful to donors who enlisted Gould-Evans Architectural Design Company to create a proposed master plan for us to evaluate and present to you for review as we approach our 75th year as a parish and inaugurate our 75th Anniversary capital campaign. They are helping us create a vision as directed by sacred scripture.