It is time for another update on the various projects going on around here. As you have seen, there is a HUGE building boom in the West Campus (or as UT prefers to call it, “West of Guadalupe”) area. Many very big dorms are being built all around us. When these are all open it will bring many more university students into our immediate area. This will have an impact on traffic in our area, especially foot traffic during the school year. It will have impacts on our parish ministry, as we will be closer to many students than the University Catholic Center, and some of those, either out of liturgical preference or out of sheer laziness, will opt to join us for Mass rather than walk two blocks more to UCC. We will see.
Also, the demolition of the old McDonald’s and the excavation for the Marriott hotels is now, after multiple delays, moving forward rapidly. That is quite a big hole they are digging! I understand that there is to be underground parking for 250 cars, going down three and a half stories.
So far, the school has been doing very well and not much bothered by the construction at all. We hope it stays that way, and certainly by the end of summer the hotel excavation will be complete and they will be into interior construction, which will be much quieter and much cleaner. For now, we have moved several of the upper grades to classrooms we are renting from Hillel, across 21st Street from us, and then moved some of the other grades into the Middle School classrooms. This has worked out better than expected, as the teachers and the students like being in the newer facilities at Hillel. It has also been an opportunity to learn more about our Jewish neighbors.
As for the renovation of our campus, we are now about 80% complete. There is still work to be done in the new lobby area and installing the new bathrooms, as well as work on the tower. Metal panels will be put on the sides of the tower, new ladders inside the tower, and the cross and light fixture mounted on the top of the tower. We are pretty close to schedule and pretty close to budget. And I am very happy so far with the results. Already the church looks much better, and it will really look nice when all is done.
We are planning a special ceremony of blessing and thanksgiving on Sunday morning, May 27. That is the Feast of the Holy Trinity, but it is also the Feast Day of St Augustine of Canterbury, or as we know him, St. Austin. A more public event will take place after the 8:30 a.m. Mass, followed by a dedication Mass at 11:30 a.m.
We are also continuing our search for a new Director of Liturgy and Music. More candidates continue to apply, and we have learned a lot. In the meantime, parishioners have stepped up and made our worship continue to be a source of pride and beauty.
Finally, we are still waiting for permission from the Diocese of Austin to go public with our Request For Proposal (RFP) to developers for the development of our campus property. I hope to be able to report to you soon that we have been able to move forward. My next meeting with the Bishops and the Diocesan Consultors is set for Monday morning, February 19. Keep us in your prayers!
Thank you all for your patience and understanding, and your support during this busy time. As things develop I will continue to keep you updated.