In a few short weeks we will be closing the Ste. Marguerite Parish Center (St. Theresa School Building) and formally proceeding to find a partner(s) to enter into a lease agreement with the parish. Ideally, it will be used in such a way that enhances the mission of the parish and Church. We certainly pray through the intercession of St. Joseph for such an outcome.
The building is a solidly built edifice which has served us very well for several decades in a variety of ways. The time has simply come, however, given the maintenance needs and the extraordinarily high heating bills to close the building before another winter sets in.
It has not been an easy decision to make. For the last two years I have been under pressure to close the building due to the pressing financial concerns. Financial decisions are relatively easy to make, but they become much more difficult when the building is housing critical ministries within its walls. I asked two of our staff, Lisa Campbell and Jim McMorrow, to work with the groups to see how their ministries could continue if the building were to close. Only now that I am satisfied that the important ministries can and will continue do I feel comfortable sharing that a final decision has been made to close the building. This decision has been made in consultation with the Finance Council, parish leaders and also community leaders who have been generous in consulting with us. In short, we have been moving toward a decision, but only now has it been finally made. In conscience and in justice we could not put the ministries in jeopardy without alternative plans in place.
Our parishes and collaborative are called to be driven by our mission. We are called to serve. Our own ministries and those that we host within our buildings are central to our identity. The loss of the center comes with sacrifice. Our St. Vincent de Paul will now be in a smaller space in the parish hall. As a result, the hall is smaller and that shrinks available space for everyone. The Alcoholic Anonymous meetings, the Boy Scouts, and other groups are mostly being provided for by moving into the parish hall. Religious education is moving to St. Mary Magdalen. End 68 Hours of Hunger is also moving to St. Mary Magdalen. Some larger meetings will move to St. Rita. As space is lost and provided for elsewhere sacrifices are being made across the board. But this reality should not surprise us.
The mission of the church always has and always will call us to sacrifice for Christ and for others. The mission has priority.
A small meeting room is given up in order that we can have Perpetual Adoration. Another small room is turned over so that seventy children can have food on the weekends. St. Rita rectory is given up for lease so that pregnant women can be assisted in choosing life for their unborn children. A parish hall shrinks so that our neighbors in need can receive assistance from St. Vincent de Paul. Schedules and hall spaces are adjusted so that our brothers and sisters can find support in their battle with addiction.
We need to do so much more for our sisters and brothers in Christ. We adore the Lord in prayer and receive Him in the Eucharist. He calls us to come to Him. Then He says, “Go!” Go bring my love to the world. Be my hands, my feet, my voice, my heart. Then, after spending yourself in service, come back to rest, adore, and worship preparing to be sent out again. We are called to neither quietism nor an excessive spirit of activism. We are called to prayerful, loving service of Christ in our neighbor.
Mother Teresa used to teach the call of Christ to us to serve by taking the person’s hand she was speaking to and pointing at each finger as she would say five words: “You did it to ME!” All we are trying to do is the best we can with the resources we have to share Christ’s love with the world.
Rev. Richard F. Clancy