With this column I would like to update you in regard to several areas of our parish’s life.
1. Campus Master Plan: Beginning in January of 2018 a Campus Space Planning Committee began working to establish a vision for our campus to prepare us for the next 100 years of service to our Church and our city. Last fall this group completed its work in providing a vision, and establishing a set of priorities to ensure our buildings and campus serve both our current needs and the needs of future generations at The Basilica and in the community.
As a next step, we selected a team of individuals and organizations to translate that vision into a more specific Master Plan for The Basilica and its campus. To work with members of our parish, we searched for an architectural firm that could work as a team with urban planners, historical preservationists, and landscape architects. Through a process which included “Requests for Qualifications” and “Requests for Proposals,” we identified interested experts from across the country. Eventually three teams were interviewed in person, and ultimately it was recommended to The Basilica Landmark Board that the Architectural firm HGA and their team be hired to develop a Master Plan for our Basilica Campus. The Basilica Landmark Board approved the funding of this recommendation and we began negotiations for a contract with HGA.
Next a small Master Planning Committee was formed to work with HGA and their team in the development of the Master Plan for The Basilica and its campus. This Committee met for the past six months to develop a Master Plan for our campus, which included some specific issues, e.g. accessibility, music, parking, meeting/social space, and our liturgical space. As the details become finalized we hope to share the results of the work of this committee in the coming months.
The Plan is very comprehensive and includes recommendations to support the broad vision for the campus and solutions to all identified needs to better perform our day to day ministries and works. The Plan did not filter against a budget or a financial target to ensure we addressed all opportunities. The Master Plan included 15 “groupings” of work and expense to reflect potential projects or campaigns for The Basilica to consider. These are representative of likely project groupings, and the included detail allows The Basilica flexibility in defining scope of each project we pursue in the coming years.
The detail in the Master Plan will be used as a starting point and will help guide us as we begin the work to determine the appropriate scope and phases of implementing the Master Plan. These project priority decisions will be reflective of the needs of our Parish community and reflect the interests, budget and giving capacity of our Parishioners and donors.
2. Feasibility Study: As I have mentioned previously, The Landmark Board also approved funding to hire the firm of Bentz Whaley Flessner to conduct a feasibility study to help determine fund raising capacity for a potential Capital Campaign needed to implement elements of the newly developed Master Plan.
As the work of the Campus Space Planning, Master Plan Development, Feasibility Study and potential Capital Campaign have broad implications for our Parish we have been actively engaged with The Basilica Landmark Board, Parish Council, and Finance Committee to ensure our leaders are informed and appropriately involved in providing guidance and approval.
3. Our Parish Finances: A big THANK YOU to all those who so generously supported our Basilica parish at Christmas and through year-end giving. Your financial support makes it possible for us to continue to offer the programs, ministries, and services that are the hallmark of our parish.
I want to thank all those who have made a commitment of financial support to our parish community during our financial stewardship campaign this fall. Please know your commitment of financial support to our parish community is greatly appreciated. Your pledge—no matter the size—is important and makes a difference. It allows us to continue to offer the many programs, ministries and services that are the hallmark of our Basilica community. Please know of my great gratitude for your ongoing financial support.
4. Change Management Consultant: As I have mentioned previously, several months ago our parish our Parish Council and Finance Committee approved funding to hire a Change Management Consultant, to help us as we seek to implement our new strategic plan.
Most recently our parish staff and a small Task Force have been working with the Change Management Consultant to help us develop an “assessment tool” to help us identify those ministries, services, and programs, etc. that are important and necessary for our parish community and need to continue, as well as those that need to change or end. Our new Strategic Plan has provided the foundation to guide our decision making process and prioritization.
It is both good and important periodically for parishes to take a step back and review the various programs and ministries that are part of their parish operation to make sure they are still filling a need, or whether they to be modified, or ended so that new or emerging needs can be addressed. The Change Management Consultant is helping us take a careful and considered look at all that we do here at The Basilica. We hope to finish this work sometime in early spring.
5. Archdiocesan Synod: On the weekend of January 18 and 19 members of our Parish Synod Committee spoke at all the Masses on the upcoming Archdiocesan Synod. A synod is a formal representative assembly designed to help a bishop in shepherding of the local Church. It is Archbishop Hebda’s hope that over the next two years, the synod process will involve every parish and draw on the gifts that have been bestowed in such abundance on the people of this Archdiocese to discern and establish clear pastoral priorities in a way that will both promote greater unity in our Archdiocese and lead us to a more vigorous proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ. In doing so, it will help Archbishop Hebda discern, through a consultative process, the pastoral priorities of our local Church today—and into the near future.
The synod process began this past fall and continues during the winter and spring with prayer and listening events. After these events, in the summer of 2020, Archbishop Hebda will announce the topics that will shape the synod. In autumn of 2020 and winter of 2021 there will be a parish and deanery consultation process. On Pentecost weekend May 21-22, 2021 there will be a synod assembly. Delegates to this assembly will be invited from across the archdiocese and will meet to discern synod topics and vote on recommendations for the Archbishop. The Feast of Christ the King (November 21, 2021) is the anticipated publication of pastoral letter from Archbishop Hebda addressing the synod’s topics with a pastoral plan to shape the following 5-10 years.
I believe the synod process brings with it much promise for the future of our Archdiocese. It will only be successful, though, if people pray, participate, and honestly share their concerns, questions and hopes for our Archdiocese. To this end —since I first informed you of the synod—we have established a parish synod ambassador team who will work to solicit feedback from our parishioners and keep everyone informed as the synod process moves forward. There is a link to this group as well as information on the listening session at mary.org/synod. You can anticipate hearing more about the synod in the weeks and months ahead.
6. Catholic Services Appeal: The 2020 Catholic Services Appeal (CSA) will begin the weekend of February 1 and 2. This yearly appeal helps support the many ministries, services and programs within our Archdiocese. Now I realize many people are concerned that contributions to the Catholic Services Appeal will be used for purposes they didn’t intend. In this regard, it is important to note that The Catholic Services Appeal is an independent 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. This was done, to insure that all the money that is collected through the Appeal would go directly and solely to the ministries, services, and programs supported by the CSA. No CSA funds go to the Archdiocese.
By pooling the financial resources from generous donors throughout our diocese, much important and necessary work is funded by the Catholic Services Appeal (CSA). As your pastor, I wholeheartedly endorse the work of the Appeal; I encourage you to make a gift to support these important ministries, services and programs. Please look for the Catholic Services Appeal information in pews, or learn more at csafspm.org.
7. Recent Maintenance Projects: In addition to several smaller maintenance projects this summer, there were also two major maintenance projects. We replaced the carpeting in the lower level of the church. If you have not been in the lower level of The Basilica recently I would encourage you to stop down and see the new carpeting. Replacing the old carpeting and updating the hospitality area with an expanded area of terrazzo was one of our major maintenance projects this summer. I know I come from a biased perspective, but I think it turned out quite well.
The other major maintenance project this summer/fall was rebuilding the south façade of our parish school building. While the brickwork is done a couple months ago, the Terra Cotta needed to finish the job was delayed. It finally arrived a few weeks ago and has been installed. If you haven’t seen the rebuilt south facade of the school, I invite you to stop and view it after church some weekend. I think it turned out exceptionally well.
8. Civilize It: Dignity Beyond the Debate: The Bishops of the United States have launched a year-long initiative that invites Catholics to model civility, love for neighbor, and respectful dialogue. Civilize It: Dignity Beyond the Debate will ask Catholics to pledge civility, clarity, and compassion in their families, communities, and parishes, and call on others to do the same.
The initiative is built on the recognition that every person—even, and perhaps especially, those with whom we disagree—is a beloved child of God who possesses inherent dignity. Civilize It is an invitation to imitate the example of Jesus in our daily lives in our encounters with one another through civil dialogue.
In talking about this initiative, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, of Venice, and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development emphasized the importance of Civilize It in the context of the current divisive climate:
“Conversation in the public square is all too often filled with personal attacks and words that assume the worst about those with whom we disagree. We are in need of healing in our families, communities, and country. Civilize It: Dignity Beyond the Debate is a call for Catholics to honor the human dignity of each person they encounter, whether it is online, at the dinner table, or in the pews next to them. I invite all Catholics to participate in Civilize It. In doing so, they can bear witness to a better way, approach conversations with civility, clarity, and compassion, and invite others to do the same.” You can find out more about Civilize It at CivilizeIt.org.
On Sunday, February 16 at 11:00am Bill Dougherty from Better Angels will speak in the lower level of The Basilica about the work of Better Angels. At the end of his talk we will invite people to take the Civilize It pledge of: 1. Civility; 2. Clarity; and 3. Compassion, and to pray for civility in our conversations. hose who are interested will also be invited to commit to the three additional three more workshops with Better Angels: March 7, 21, and 28. These will be skills workshops to delve deeper into the concepts Bill will address in his talk that day.
Rev. John M. Bauer
Pastor, The Basilica of Saint Mary