Sunday, May 3, 2015

The once and future Rectory?

Two weeks ago our parish Parochial Administrator (not yet formally made Pastor by our Archbishop) included with the bulletin this letter about a possible Capital Campaign. And in doing so he says,
"I wanted to introduce into the conversation the possibility of reclaiming part of the Rectory building for housing."
More on that below.

The possible campaign stems from two issues, the condition of the Outreach House, which had been the Rectory, and the mortgage balance. Both the Rectory conversion and the mortgage came out of the parish building project early last decade.

That project, you might recall, also included a new Day/Adoration Chapel. Its proposed design was, from my perspective, the bait that got me to pledge for the first round of that capital campaign. And the switch to construct it to a very different design (see as-built photo) was what got me to not pledge or give to any subsequent rounds of capital fundraising. As I've said, fool me once, etc..

You might also recall that our Parochial Administrator not long ago announced that the Chapel would be rearranged to better accomodate Eucharist Adoration. (see second photo) This rearrangement is essentially that shown in those architects renderings around 15 years ago. So what could I do; even though there was then no campaign, I started sending in checks designated for the mortgage.

A lesser bitter taste had been left by the closing of the Rectory as a residence for priests in connection with that circa 2002 project. For a very brief summary of how that came about, see the later part of my June 28, 2005 post and my comment to it. When I joined the Parish Council in 1996, there was already an evaluation of the parish's use of its buildings in progress. This included consideration of possible changes in the use of the Rectory building, then occupied by two priests and some parish offices. There was not, as far as I can see, a parish decision to convert the Rectory to other uses. And a proposal to demolish it as part of the circa 2002 building project drew enough objections (including from me) that the building remains.

That bitter taste wasn't just from seeing "how the sausage is made", here someone's desired result of not having a Rectory as such at St. Al's. It was that a priest-tenant not assigned to our parish would otherwise have continued to live there, and within a few years a new Associate Pastor was surprised to learn it was not available to live in. As far as I can tell, we might have had four priests living in it now if it had remained a Rectory.

In his letter, our Parochial Administrator went on,

"It would be my dream to be back in residence at St. Alphonsus. The parish is my family and I would love the ability to live in the family home. Therefore, some of the options that the Finance Council will present to for our consideration will include space for several priests to rent from the parish, still leaving room for vital ministries critical to our mission."
I see that our Pope made a point of encouraging our priests to live simply. Owning a home, or even a condo, and commuting to work never struck me as simple compared to living in a parish rectory. Given that there had been that push to demolish the Rectory 15 years ago, it's hard to believe it's essential for office space today, other than than offices for the priests.

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