Weekly Bulletin Column

From Fr. Michael Reding

July 25, 2021

The Final Stretch

In 2015, as part of our Faith in Our Future strategic planning process, we conducted a thorough review of our buildings. In doing so, we identified many areas of concern – parts of our facilities that were in poor condition and needed expensive repairs and upgrades.

In 2017, our facilities committee (parishioners with extensive experience in commercial construction) retained the services of Opus Design Build to investigate these needs further, estimate costs, and help us to prioritize projects which were most urgent.

In 2018, working with the Steier Group, we launched Mission Critical: A Campaign for Building Renewal. We received more than $3 million pledges, and our finance council agreed that we could also draw up to $1 million from our parish savings (funds available from estate gifts, a few years of operating surpluses, and contributions to our long-time Boiler Fund).

In 2019, we began construction. That year, we replaced our 95-year-old boiler and added an air-handling system for the school and church. We completely rebuilt the school restrooms. We made upgrades to the electrical systems and alarm systems in the school. And we replaced the lights in our church with LEDs, adding light switches to control them.

In 2020, we completed extensive masonry work on our school and church – removing and replacing brick-and-steel on the lintels of our school windows and repairing and tuckpointing masonry as needed across both buildings. We repaired the windows in the school, and we installed new windows in the church and the northeast stair tower. After the building had been made water-tight once again, we repaired damaged plaster throughout the church. Finally, we upgraded the sound system in our church, providing better acoustics and amplification for our worshipping assembly.

Now, in 2021, we’re entering the final stretch of this multi-year process of improvements. This week, our mechanical contractor began working in the parish center (former rectory; now home to our staff offices). They will be rebuilding the heating and cooling system in this structure and installing a new ventilation system. The present system in this building is more than sixty years old and has been unreliable, requiring multiple maintenance calls every year. The rebuilt system will be more reliable, more efficient, and will provide us with greater temperature control than in the past. The addition of a ventilation system will, for the first time, circulate and distribute fresh air throughout the building.

In addition to this major work in the parish center, there are two other projects that will be completed in the coming months.

We will be excavating and installing a storm sewer on the west side of our school (between the school building and the plaza in front of the church. Since these two buildings were linked together twenty years ago, water from rain and snow has not drained properly and instead has infiltrated the lower level of our school and a mechanical room that was added with a previous renovation. Proper grading and a new sewer line will carry this water away and stop the deterioration of our buildings.

Lastly, we will be replacing and adding some new light fixtures on the exterior of our buildings. These will, of course, be LED lights, saving us money and maintenance costs. And they will also light some areas that have been dark and presented a safety and security hazard.

It is so nice to be in the final stretch with all of these projects! Because we wanted to avoid borrowing money and paying interest costs, we decided to complete the projects over a three-year period, as our parishioners fulfilled their pledges to the Mission Critical campaign. Your generous and faithful commitment has allowed us to do all this work as promised. In a few months, our facilities will be in the best condition we’ve seen in decades.

Because I will be away on sabbatical, I will not be present to witness the final work of this six-year process. I have every confidence in and am so grateful for the leadership provided by our facilities committee: Steve Schmitt, Hein de Hoog, Bill Igel, Rick Kruger, and Barb Staats. They, along with our general contractor, Opus Design Build, will ensure that these final projects are completed according to our highest expectations