A few weeks ago, I was invited to dinner by one of our parish families. They also invited some of their family friends, including some who were members of our parish. It was nice to share a large family dinner with friends. During dinner, someone asked me what was new in the parish. I mentioned a topic that has been at the forefront of my mind, the church’s roof, which has been badly in need of replacement for many years. Someone asked if I was sure I wanted to undertake such a project. This question weighed heavily on my mind, and made me consider whether or not this was something I should pursue. Last Christmas, there were 26 leaks throughout the church, and we had to place buckets throughout the building to catch the water when it rained. The leaking roof got the attention of many of our parishioners, including one little girl who came to me and said, “Father your church is leaking.” After many prayers, consultation with other people, and reviewing an aerial survey of the roof, I decided to go forward with my decision to have the roof replaced as it cannot be postponed any longer.
I realize that replacing the roof is a massive and expensive project, with many uncertainties. For example, once the tiles are removed, the wood beneath them may be rotten and may require replacement. However, we have consulted with several roofing companies, and I have been assured that we will be able to continue to use the church for Masses and other liturgical services while the roof is undergoing repairs.
I began this project trusting in God and relying on you, my wonderful parishioners. We will commence our fundraising for this project starting this Sunday and continue until we reach our goal. We would like to begin the work by June of 2018, but we must reach our goal of two-thirds of the total price by then. If all goes as planned, we should be able to complete the project by the end of July 2018. We will keep everyone apprised of the progress of this project as it goes along, and if we encounter any obstacles, we will let everyone know. As your pastor, I too will be making a monthly contribution to the roofing project.
I will be sending a personal letter to every family registered in the parish regarding this issue. The letter will provide information about the project, a pledge card, and a return envelope. If you do not receive the letter within a week, please call the parish office and let them know, and we will mail it to you again. We will keep a record of donors which will be published in the parish bulletin. If, for some reason you forget to make your donation, the parish office will remind you either by mail or telephone call.
We have set up various levels of donations, which will allow you to give according to your financial ability. These will be set forth in the pledge cards that will be mailed to you. Also, as you may have noticed, the giving tree in the back of the church has several empty leaves and spaces for rocks. We plan on filling up those leaves and spaces. For a leaf, the donation range is $6,000-$9,999, and for a rock, it is $10,000-$24,999. We will also be adding two more items for the benefit of those who wish to contribute additional amounts. We will be adding two Clouds, I and II. The donation for Cloud I is $25,000-$49,000, and Cloud II is $50,000 and above. At some point, we will print pictures of the clouds in the bulletin for you to view; I have seen them, and they are beautiful. If you wish to see them before they are published, please contact the parish office.
We have formed two committees to allow more people to become involved with this project. One committee is comprised of architects, engineers, and professionals to review the bids which I call the roofing committee. The committee has met several times and has identified three bids. They have determined that we can accomplish the removal of the old roof, installation of the new roof, and update the air conditioning equipment for $750,000. This amount is very reasonable considering the size of the roof, which is 22,200 square feet (17,200 square feet of barrel roof and 5,400 square feet of flat roof), comparable to 22 average size home roofs.
The other committee is a fundraising committee. This committee has met several times to discuss fundraising. We have set up a special account, the “Roofing Project Account,” for this purpose. You may make your checks payable to “Santa Sophia,” with a notation in the memo portion of your check of “Roofing Project”. We have also made provisions for this account for those who prefer to donate by E-giving. The bulletin will run a bar-graph to keep you updated on the progress of donations received. We will be also seeking donations from outside sources as well, such as friends, foundations, and companies. If anyone has any contacts or suggestions with regard to fundraising, please let us know. On a positive note, I want to let you know that we have a reserve of $55,000 from POL, a project initiated by Father Peter McGuine, our former pastor. This leaves us balance of $695,000 to raise for this project. I know that our parish home is as important to you as it is to me, so I invite you to be as generous as you possibly can.
I came to Santa Sophia as a weekend associate in 2003. When I saw the church leaking, I was surprised and shocked. I did not expect a church of this stature and grandeur to be in such a state of disrepair. In my 24 years of priesthood, I have never seen or known of a church that was allowed to leak so badly. The fact of the matter is that this problem has gone on too long, we cannot put it off any longer. Our failure to address this problem sooner has only made the problem more difficult to fix, and if we don’t act now, the damage may quickly become irreversible. We don’t allow our own houses to leak, nor should we allow our House of God to leak. I pray that you appreciate the urgency of this problem and join me, so that we can preserve our beautiful church for generations to come. – Fr. Devdas