Congratulations to our St. Charles first communicants! It is a joy to be able to welcome you to the table of the Lord’s Body and Blood for the first time. Special thanks to your parents, catechists, teachers, and all who had a hand in helping you prepare for this special day. May every reception of Holy Communion be as special for you as this first time! God bless!
Thanks also to Jerry Boorsma and our parish choir and musicians for the wonderful Casper Community Concert last Saturday. The concert featured all music from our new parish hymnals, Journeysongs. I think it helped all in attendance to appreciate the rich diversity of musical styles available to us through our hymnals. From traditional Gregorian chant, to contemporary “praise and worship” we experienced that divine Beauty which St. Augustine called “ever ancient, always new.”
Speaking of things ancient, yet always new … nearly 70 folks turned out last Thursday at St. Charles to discuss ideas for a parish center. Ever since my arrival at St. Charles – 4 years this July – I’ve had parishioners speaking to me about their hopes for a new facility. My understanding is that this has been considered a necessary undertaking ever since the old convent “Welcome Center” was torn down ten years ago. This has certainly also been a strong desire of both the Parish Pastoral Council and Finance Council, and the other various parish committees: worship, discipleship, and mission. So, the idea of a parish hall is an “old” proposal. (Plans were even drawn up years ago.) Now, because of several generous benefactors we find ourselves in a position to move forward. Our debt is retired and we have some potential “seed money” with which to begin.
What is “new” about this project is a deeper appreciation of other parish needs in terms of offices, meeting rooms, nursery, library/resource center, accessibility issues, etc. Many great ideas about these needs were generated at last Thursday’s meeting. The firm we are working with, CBS-Squared, of Chippewa Falls is processing all the ideas which participants prioritized by a voting process. From this they will formulate a very preliminary plan and cost estimate as to what size building is needed to serve our present and future needs. I want to thank everyone for their input. Please know that there will be future opportunities for input and discussion. We are simply developing a conceptual working plan – a very preliminary step.
There were also concerns and reservations expressed at Thursday’s meeting. Some parishioners are unaware of our pressing needs in terms of facilities, which means our councils and committees have to do a better job of communicating the vision and spreading awareness. Another concern raised was the cost. Having just paid off our debt, are we not just going to put ourselves back into long-term parish indebtedness? It’s a good question! Currently, the Diocese requires that a parish have 90% of the cost raised – cash in hand – before construction can begin. In other words, if we have to borrow at all, we are only permitted to borrow 10% of the total cost. So the answer to that concern is “No.” We’ve worked too hard to achieve a balanced budget and pay off our debt. I don’t intend for St. Charles to lose the ground we’ve gained in the last few years. Then there is the potential “seed money” given to us by several benefactors. If that money is not deposited into a diocesan-approved fund for a project such as this, it becomes subject to various assessments (think “taxes”) as part of regular parish income. So, along with our very real needs as a parish, it is actually financially opportune for us to move on this project at this time. Again, though, nothing gets built until at least 90% of the funding is raised.