Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Fr. Chuck's Column, February 24, 2019

Soon we will be into the holy season of Lent. All of our ministries are gearing up for this special time.
Let me bring you up-to-date on several things that are also going on around here. First, as you may have heard, the Diocese of Austin is now in the middle of a major capital campaign with a goal of $80,000,000, to create endowments for the many good works of the Diocese: to train new clergy and care for elderly clergy, to help rural parishes that are struggling and to grow new ones in the areas that are expanding, to support religious education and Catholic schools, and to support ministries and charities. The Encountering Christ Campaign is a positive way to prepare for the future in this growing, active Diocese.
To conduct this campaign well over the entire 24 counties and 120 parishes of the Diocese, the campaign has been broken into three waves. The pilot group and the first wave are now completed. St. Austin is in the second wave, and you will shortly be hearing more about it. Our parish goal is $2,030,000. Of every dollar raised we receive back 30 cents or $609,000 if we reach our goal.
We hope to use our portion to make interior upgrades to the church. We hired an acoustician who does a lot of church work to provide us with a plan to replace, upgrade, and improve our sound system. We have also engaged a lighting consultant so that we can re-lamp our church interior to make it brighter and more welcoming. We would like to add A/C units up in the choir loft so that the choir is not broiling while the pews are freezing. We also would like to add statues of two women saints to complement the statues of Sts. Peter and Paul that we have in the front, and finally, if possible, purchase new hymnals. We will see how much we raise and how much we can do.
In addition, the Development Committee has been meeting with our broker, CBRE, and the developer we have chosen,  Greystar, to see if we can make this project work financially, physically, and in keeping with our parish’s mission. As a reminder, we are exploring whether a portion of our property could be leased for commercial purposes and provide us with a third-party revenue stream from the lease to help us replace some of our aging facilities. Part of this work includes trying to figure out where the activities of our community would go during the two years of construction. We first looked at our own properties and it looks like the retail space on the first and second floor of the garage (Subway) will meet the parish office and short term ministry needs. This  would be both convenient and cheaper than renting commercial properties. The school has some very good leads and has been actively following up on those. No work has been done yet on the rectory replacement, so I am not sure where the priests will go. As Jesus says in Mt 8:20 “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I am sure we will figure that out. In any case, we need to include these transition costs in the financial modeling we are running as we determine if this deal can work for all
By mid May we should know if this opportunity works for our community, and we will continue to communicate to you, the Parish, as we are all making a legacy decision for the future of our mission on the corner of West Campus.
There are many things going on around here right now. Please keep us all in your prayers. This is an exciting time to be part of St Austin Catholic Parish and School community!

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