Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fr. Chuck's Column, Sunday, June 22

It is now Summer here in Austin, and while things slow down a little bit, there is still plenty of activity in the parish.
I am happy to announce that Mr. Fred Valle has been hired as the new Principal for St. Austin Catholic School. He has extensive experience as a principal of a Catholic school (Our Lady of Sorrows in McAllen, TX) and as Director of Good Shepherd Network that oversaw eight Catholic Schools in San Antonio, TX.  He will be starting on July 1. I am also happy to report that Ms. Barbara Kennedy, who has done such a good and faithful job as Principal of our school for the last 5 years, will be staying on as the fourth grade teacher. I look forward to a really great year at St Austin School next year.
You may have been wondering about our issue with the fa├žade of the church and the rectory, where stone has broken and fallen away. Now that we have finished with the 2014-2015 offertory campaign that was so successful (many thanks to all of you who have helped us out financially!), we are now concentrating again on the issue of the exterior of the church. We are looking for solutions to keep people safe that will not involve the expense and the eyesore of a huge covered walkway in front of the church, and I hope soon you will see some results. All the loose stone has been removed, the cross on the tower has been secured, and we feel we can keep the area safe with less intrusive solutions.
Meanwhile the parish Property Committee has been hard at work trying to find a long term solution to the exterior problem. We sent out requests for architects to five different firms here in Austin and promptly received five replies of “Not Interested” due to the building boom and activity in Austin – all the architectural firms are swamped. This is understandable. Our project is rather small and also it is somewhat complicated and not clear cut, so it will require a lot of work with comparatively little return.
However, undismayed, our Property Committee worked hard and succeeded in finding two firms that are interested in our project, both of which have a relationship with St. Austin Catholic Parish. The Property Committee is interviewing both firms on Tuesday, July 1, so by Independence Day, we hope to have a firm selected to help us solve our problem.
In addition to finding a solution for the small pieces of stone falling off the face of the church and rectory, we also want to use this opportunity to give the church greater impact and presence on Guadalupe Street, possibly expand the bathrooms in the back of the church, and maybe even create a nicer place for the nursery and to begin having children’s Liturgy of the Word. The immediate question, however, is over what material to use to replace the damaged limestone exterior. Replacing the limestone would only lead to the same problem we have currently, so we hope we can find a better solution. Stucco? Manufactured composite stone? Some other material? I have (factiously) suggested aluminum siding, but the Property Committee has (fortunately) ignored me. I hope we can come up with a creative solution. Please keep us in your prayers.
God bless, 

Fr. Chuck

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