The following paragraph was a pre-amble to the submission.
When we looked at other changes of use, or just about any change of ANYTHING in the school building or parking lot (even adding gates), the word from the City, via Phil Meier(sp?) (an extra-parochial volunteer who repaired the 3rd floor windows before the glazing started falling out) was that they would demand we re-stripe the parking lot and perhaps add green space, according to current code. Is this still the case?
The main body of the commentary begins here
Well. If you ask for comments from me, you will likely get comments from me.
Warning: these are blunt, for the sake of clarity.
While I am skeptical about the whole project, and distrustful of the philosophy behind it (for reasons that should become apparent in the text that follows), I am not *entirely* opposed to the concept of a residential college run by St. Paul's in our school building provided that:
1. It is truly a residential college in that those living there will be enrolled in a somewhat formalized plan of formation. In fact, any student apartments should be classified as something like residences for a school. This is to make sure that the use is ecclesiastical, and also to make it clear that the use is property tax exempt.
2. The residence, which should feature a common dining room, should occupy only the first two floors, probably not the basement ("Garden" apartments. Really! Sheesh!), and CERTAINLY NOT THE AUDITORIUM. THE AUDITORIUM OUGHT TO REMAIN INTACT AND BE REFURBISHED AS SUCH.
However, even this way, it seems less than optimum, as even this will make much of the building unavailable for use by the community at Holy Redeemer. However, having a formalized student residence on two floors may have merit, especially if the students are encouraged to do things like participate in Perpetual Adoration.
Beyond that, I must object to the dishonesty of this presentation, as well as some glaring omissions:
1. There is no crisis. This "crisis" was manufactured. I tried to get this roof repaired years ago. As I recall Holy Redeemer had approximately $1.6 million on hand before we were forced into the merger. We could afford the $200,000 then, and, as that money should still be around, we should still be able to afford it now. Also, a couple of years ago a few of us had made a proposal to have a special fund-raising drive to raise $200,000 to replace the roof, as well as a secondary drive to raise funds -- from NON-ecclesial sources -- to restore the school building. This proposal was pointedly and deliberately ignored.
This was not the clergy's finest hour.
There is no "emergency" requiring this sort of draconian action. The fact is we can just write a check for the roof replacement for now, and deal with larger issues later, in a more orderly fashion.
I will remind you that the $1 million bequest we had from Irene Newman was FROM a Holy Redeemer parishioner to HOLY REDEEMER. Refusing to spend the $$ on Holy Redeemer because we have been forced into a merger with St. Raphael is more than a little foul.
I note that the "options" presented in the document do not mention the aforementioned proposal, nor the fact that it was not given consideration, there had been no meetings with the proposers (aside from a meeting with me alone to inform me that it would not be considered), etc. etc. Had this been handled properly, we would probably have had the roof repaired quite some time ago and would likely be well into a $2-3 million (much less than the current proposal, I note) fund-raising drive. We would not have plastic on the roof, nor would the Johnson Street exit be blocked, and we would still have our charitable endeavors operating.
Also, those of us who have been laboring at Holy Redeemer for many years, and who know what is going on would not feel as betrayed and abused as we do.
Also, no mention was made of the renovation of the school auditorium that WAS done by members of Holy Redeemer Parish, who contributed their labor, only to see it wasted because of the wrong-headed approach of those making decisions.
Having a policy of letting our buildings rot because of some future possibility of building something else some distance away is not good stewardship, and is disrespectful of the efforts and sacrifices of our past parishioners, and of the efforts that those of us in the community have been making over the course of the years to see that the buildings our community built are put to good parochial, apostolic, or at least charitable use.
The fact of the forced merger is no reason to treat the members of Holy Redeemer Congregation, nor of the sacrifices of past parishioners cavalierly and disrespectfully, in this matter and in many others over the past 5 years or so. Sometimes it feels like we are living under an occupation, or a hostile corporate takeover.
I do not believe this serves the Lord Jesus well.
Even assuming that all three churches remain merged indefinitely, rather than say "Oh, we might some day build another building over there." It makes MUCH more sense to say: "We have this building. We'll take good care of and perhaps we can AVOID building another large auxiliary building over there, and concentrate on building a large cathedral church on the land. Also, it seems quite possible that some time further down the road, the Cathedral, not wanting to have to worry about another church, may turn the HR campus over to another ecclesiastical entity. It likely would be good if THEY also have the school building available to them, at least in part.
Cancel this project, or, at least, restrict it to the 1st and 2nd floor. Write a check for the roof. We'll have to raise money for it later.
Well, you asked for comments. You got them.
As every fact presented herein is true, and as every opinion expressed is based on a fairly thorough familiarity with things at Holy Redeemer and in the Diocese after 30+ years, I challenge you to post this commentary and give people a hint of the untold backstory.
Yours in Christ, even if livid. Rich