The above Latin phrase is familiar to many of our parishioners who are members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. (It is the Order’s motto). It is also the phrase that was used at the time of the Crusades to call the Christian people to a great undertaking. Grammatically it is most interesting, because it is an example of late Latin, just on the brink of becoming Italian. (Our many good students at the Brother Fox Latin School and others who are studying Latin will realize the Lo is never used in classical Latin). It means GOD WILLS IT. It is a phrase that came to my mind while praying about the many great needs of our parish. This weekend I will be speaking at all the Masses to invite you to join with me in this great endeavor, for, I am firmly convinced, God wills it.
Many of you are homeowners and know that after many years of use you need to accomplish improvements and repairs. For some time now we have been studying the needs of the parish with an eye toward accomplishing needed repairs and upgrades to the Church, Rectory and Barn buildings and our grounds. Over time, just normal wear and tear and weather conditions take their toll. Sadly, as everyone is well aware, there has been much deferred maintenance.
The construction of the Church was completed in 1968 and in 2018 we will celebrate its 50th anniversary. We have been blessed and benefited greatly as a parish community with such a beautiful Church to worship in and enjoy - on so many important occasions, but it is in need of our attention. You can see that it needs basic improvements like: painting, the existing pews and the kneelers need to be refurbished, the flooring needs to be refinished, the bathroom needs to be renovated and the lighting and controls improved. In addition, we are looking to accomplish some wonderful enhancements to the worship space such as; to relocate and enlarge the music ministry, update the sanctuary and add devotional areas to enhance our worship and liturgy. The Most Blessed Sacrament will be restored to the place which the original blueprints called for – the center of the sanctuary. There all will see the tabernacle and adore Our Lord who is the center and summit of our worship and lives. The present configuration of the sanctuary places the priest in the center of all and higher than the even altar itself. Each time I sit there, almost like an emperor in an audience hall, I recall the motto I chose for my Ordination remembrance card, He must increase, but I must decrease. Sadly, the configuration of the sanctuary makes the very opposite statement. It is Our Lord Who has decreased. I will be writing more about this in the upcoming weeks.
The rectory needs work, including windows and renovation to the interior, nothing glamorous, but more to update and be more efficient. Three rooms had to be completely gutted due to mold infestation and only one has been restored. For the integrity of the building flooring and sheetrock must be installed
The barn is in need of new windows and updating the interior and to update the heating and air-conditioning system, which will also create efficiency and lower our operating cost.
And finally, our parking lot needs to be resurfaced and restriped, it is beginning to deteriorate in many areas. The concrete and brick work is damaged in many places and must be repaired and replaced.
Our parish leaders with the assistance of an architect and the diocese have been meeting regularly to determine the exact extent of the work necessary and how to proceed. A big part of the plan moving forward will be to involve all of you in the process. A Parish Feasibility Study will be conducted during the months of February thru March to share with you the details of the proposed improvements and receive your input and advice on our plans.
Myself, and our parish leaders decided to conduct the Feasibility Study so that all parishioners are given an opportunity to learn more about the specifics of the work, the costs involved and to give input on all of this before anything is finalized.
I ask you to participate and help us determine the best course of action to take. Soon you will receive an invitation to answer a series of questions and I hope you will be willing to share your time and provide important advice for us to consider.
I hope the leadership that I have shown over the past two years gives you the confidence that we are moving in the right direction. I enjoy being your pastor and look forward to years ahead here.
Since my arrival two years ago we have already accomplished a great deal. A new state of the art sound system has been installed in the Church; a new carillon system was installed, new carpeting has been installed in the Church and all the windows have been washed. LED lighting has been installed and the sanctuary has been enhanced by new ornaments. A beautiful shrine to St. Paul was built on the north side of the entrance to the Church.
The parking lot lights have been replaced by high efficiency LED lighting that is controlled by the sunlight. The parking lot has been repaired around the drains and light poles. Concrete has been repaired and trees have been removed and trimmed.
Our whole heating and air conditioning system for the entire plant has been converted to natural gas and the chimney has been relined and boilers replaced. The barn has been repainted in the interior and power washed. The lower hall was completely repainted and refurbished and all mold remediated. It was redecorated and dedicated in memory of Monsignor Costa.
New flooring was placed in the sacristies of the Church and the Daily Mass chapel. And all of this has been accomplished without spending any of our parish reserves.
A new state of the art security system has been installed and this has already proved most helpful and a deterrent to much crime and vandalism on our property. Sadly, it could not prevent the Holy Infant from being stolen from the outdoor manger. (Several generous parishioners have already come forward wanting to replace the Holy Infant).
In addition to these physical accomplishments we have, thanks to all of you, seen a great renewal in our parish. The St. Vincent de Paul Society and parish Outreach have been restored. Our own parish Pre-Cana program and RCIA have been established. The Choir and Youth Group have been restored as well as the Troops of St. George and the Catholic Fellowship added to our ministries. A Mother’s Group has been established in addition to two groups that help veterans and those seeking employment. We have had Advent and Lenten Missions and Evenings of Recollection given by guest priests.
The parishioners of St. Paul’s have a very wonderful history of generous support and pride in their parish. I look forward to continuing that history of strong support into this new challenge.
I thank you for cooperating with me in doing so much already and I rely on your help to make the next fifty years of St. Paul as glorious as the first fifty years. I thank you for the trust you have placed in me. I am sure you realize it has not been my intention to sit back and let our parish deteriorate. I invite you all to work with me in this great endeavor.
DEUS LO VULT!
GOD WILLS IT!
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda