Pastor's Message for January 23, 2022 & St. Brendan Building Report (Church & Office)
Our first reading this weekend from Nehemiah describes a community gathering to honor God – men, women and children together simply to be together, to learn together, to honor their Creator together. We call this Mass and our weekly (even daily) participation, nourished by Scripture and Eucharist, helps us to live the fullness of life – to love God and neighbor. As weekend attendance indicates, our efforts of evangelization have been unconvincing, and I am at a loss as how to fix it. And returning to failed methods will not make it better.
In 2018 the parish attempted to face the reality of decreasing attendance, mounting debt and approximately $2.3 million in deferred maintenance for St. Brendan Church and St. Ann Church. News reports from that time will recount the various consultations, comments and tension. In short, the parish was bullied into stopping the process of consolidation and the active parishioners did not challenge the leadership to act on the needed repairs – everyone is to blame.
Today, due to inaction, St. Brendan Church needs approximately $2.5 million for repairs according to the recently received report prepared by a team from the Archdiocese with nearly $1.6 million needed in 1 - 3 years and the remaining in stages through 10 years. This figure is only to repair the church and does not account for any improvements – not one. It also does not consider the parish office at 15 Rita Rd. that is in such disrepair that I am closing it for the safety of the parish staff. The office is also an embarrassment to hold meetings in because it is in such poor condition. This $2.5 million in repairs does not even consider the needs of St. Ann Church or the abandoned convent on Neponset Ave. Nor does it consider that we are in debt close to $1,000,000 to the Archdiocese for prior loans and unfunded pensions for the closed St. Ann Grammar School.
Our upcoming consultation as a parish family over five sessions – two after daily Masses and three after weekend Masses – is for active parishioners to face the hard truth which I believe we already have. Who else will be responsible to fund these projects? Those who yelled and obstructed the process in 2018 and are attempting to do it again in 2022 certainly will not be – they went home then and are only surfacing now fully indignant that they were not aware of our plight. The dedicated email for comments has received some heartfelt messages and echoes what has been said by many in the past – this is a very sad moment for the parish and community.
I am even more saddened by folks insisting that we hold meetings during a weekday evening because coming to a session on the weekend is inconvenient. The irony is too rich to ignore. More troubling are comments from individuals and online that clearly demonstrate selective reading of my many Pastor’s Messages or lack of any reading whatsoever. The default is the contentious behavior by those who stopped the process in 2018 to try again in 2022. Look at what that got us.
In the weeks to come we will conclude this process and make a formal proposal to the Cardinal concerning St. Brendan Church. Some have threatened to go to another church or stop coming all together rather than come to St. Ann Church to worship – a perplexing reaction to a situation requiring unity yet one that is ultimately for you to decide.
Be assured of my prayers and please pray for me!