Lead article from the October 2013 bulletin, online now!
|The proposed new rectory is a rambler with a living room, dining room, |
kitchen, lounge, chapel, mudroom, and bedroom on the upper level
and more bedrooms below.
Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.
– Psalm 127:1Brothers Knights,
As a member of Council 4174, I can say I am very proud to be a part of such a dedicated council. If you reflect on all the ways our council supports the parishes we serve, you quickly begin to see all we do. Sometimes we have the opportunity to support our parishes and community in very tangible ways. Most of you are aware of all the work the council has done to support Cornerstone Women’s Center including significant financial donations, an ultrasound machine, and countless hours donated to complete the renovation of their building.
This year, we have the opportunity to give back to our local priests in a very specific way. Our council is leading the effort to build a new rectory for our priests, present and future. Dei Dome Gratia (Home by the Grace of God) – a new rectory for our priests in St. Michael – will provide for the material needs our priests. This effort has the strong support of Grand Knight Jim Wiegers and council officers: as a council, we will provide the leadership and support to make this project a reality.
For many of you, this may be the first time you have heard of the project and you may have some questions. We want to explain the reasoning for a new rectory and what each of you can do to help make this a reality.
- So why build a new rectory? There are a few main reasons. The current living conditions of our priests are substandard – well below those of most of us. We could take several pages detailing all the issues our priests endure on a daily basis, but to save space, let’s just say the rectory is in rough shape and needs a lot of work. The repairs needed to bring the rectory to satisfactory condition would also cost a great deal of money. Location is another reason. As Saint Michael has grown over the last 20 years, the intersection the current rectory occupies is one of the busiest in the area. Because of the active “night life,” sleep is very difficult. Finally, and most importantly, our priests are an extension of our family. So many lives are impacted by these great men, and they deserve the living conditions we would want for our own family.
- Why are the Knights of Columbus leading this project and why now? For several reasons, but first and foremost, to show our appreciation to our priests for their leadership and to provide for their material needs. We also have a large and dynamic council who can provide the expertise and thousands of volunteer hours that will be needed to complete the project. We also have some financial strength and are well known in the community, which reassures people who may want to contribute time and financial support that the project has a high probability of success. Finally, the project is not intended to be part of any parish building process. The long-term planning and concern of Fr. Richards and the parish is to someday have a school and social hall at our Frankfort Parkway location. Fr. Richards is also much too humble to ever ask for a new home, but we shouldn’t expect our priests to live in the current conditions. With the cost of fixing the old rectory, it makes sense to invest in a long-term solution for the parish, not a temporary fix. Finally, we have a unique opportunity to obtain much of the building materials at significantly reduced costs, as Fr. Nathan has family members who are heavily involved in construction. We have been fortunate enough to receive many sizable donations already because of his connections. When you look at all these factors, it becomes clear that our council should help lead this project, and the timing is right to make it a reality.
- Where will the new rectory be located? The parish owns a small piece of property at Frankfort Parkway and Cottonwood Avenue near our current church. This location makes sense, as it moves the rectory near the church. It uses property already owned by the church and moves our priests away from noise and traffic and into a residential neighborhood. Someday in the future a new school and social hall will be built at the Frankfort location, so having the rectory nearby makes logistical sense.
- What will be done with the existing rectory? This is probably the biggest question most people have. The first thing to make sure everyone understands is that we are not planning to do anything with the Rectory. Prior to Fr. Richards and Fr. Michael Becker moving back into the current rectory, our priests had not lived there for some time. The Knights’ priority is simply to help build a new home that shows our appreciation and support of our priests and provides reasonable living conditions. It seems likely that nothing will be done with the existing rectory until long-term planning is discussed by our parish committees and priests.
- What does the timetable and building process look like? God willing, we will begin this project in the very near future! There are many factors involved in setting a project schedule, but right now our hope is to begin construction before winter. Through the generosity of several donors including a $20,000 donation from our council, we have secured the earthwork and enough money for the foundation to be completed in late fall. Our hope is to get the structure framed before winter. This would enable volunteer tradesmen and laborers to work through the winter when they are less busy. The project will be modeled after Habitat for Humanity, in which just about every aspect of the build is done through volunteer labor – and all Knights and parishioners are invited to help. Once we finalize the start date, we will create a building timeline and expect the project to take six to nine months to complete. Again, nearly all the labor will be donated, and after framing, we will have two or three build days per week. This will make it easy for everyone to know what days they can show up and help. There are many moving parts to navigate before we can set a schedule and break ground, but we will continue to send updates so people know when they can help!
- So how can I help? We need three things to make this project a success. First, we need prayers. Like anything worth doing, it’s worth praying for, so please pray for the success of the project. Second, we need men and women to help build the rectory. It will take an estimated 2,500 hours to build the house. The Habitat for Humanity model uses all the labor it can get, so even if you don’t have construction experience, we need your help. No one should feel they cannot pitch in. We will need people to help provide food. We will need help making sure everyone who shows up has signed in and has read the safety rules. We will need people who can hammer, saw, sweep, dig, and haul away trash. We need you!
Finally, if you have the financial ability and think our priests deserve better living conditions, I ask you to consider making a donation. As I mentioned previously, the project needs to be led by the Knights because the project cannot pull financial resources away from the parish. With that said, the project will need some large donors to help offset the material costs. We are putting together a registry that should be ready by late October. This registry will be much like a bridal registry, in which you will be able to purchase materials to be donated to the project. If you feel called to contribute something to the project, you will be able to. Maybe you’re a plumbing contractor and can’t contribute all the plumbing fixtures, but could consider a donation in the amount of one of the bathrooms. Maybe you want to donate $1,000 toward the project. Again, please let us know.
We have a great opportunity to show our support for our priests. If you want to help our Council give back to the men who give so much to us, please contact us. If you would like to volunteer to help, you can contact Jim Shovelain at email@example.com. If you have any further questions, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fraternally in Christ,
Trustee First Year