Today started with Mass at 8 am, mostly in Latin, as we do on the first Wednesday of the month. Attendance is good, and people are praying the Latin prayers better and better.
Then I picked up breakfast on the way to the office, here by 9 am.
A fair amount of paperwork (I have a vast supply in reserve); some phone calls and emails. But the major project today was to write a grant.
As you may know, since 2006, I've been working on a variety of projects for Saint Boniface Parish. When I arrived in 2005, the maintenance crew and many other parishioners made me aware of many urgent projects. I launched a "Rebuild Saint Boniface Fund" drive in 2006, with a goal of $580,000. It seemed so far out of reach, and yet, with prayer, a lot of events and hard work by many people, plus some big hitters, we've just about reached it. We still need to raise some funds for windows in the school; the rest of the projects are all funded.
Although the name of the project might lead you to think it's all for the church, in fact almost a third goes to the school: new windows, roof repairs, resurfacing parking/play area, and painting the gym. A chunk goes to the parish office (former rectory): interior and exterior repairs, plus improving electrical service so our computers don't trip our circuit breakers. The bulk of it goes to the church: the exterior stone-facing (a kind of stucco) needs significant attention, trim paint, the front vestibule roofs had major leaks we had to repair, thus the vestibule needed plaster and paint, the stained-glass windows needed restoration before they began to fall down in chunks, the pews need major attention (if we can save them; we may not be able to), and the like.
But there remained one element I didn't include--because it wasn't a critical need: repainting and beautifying the interior of the church. In addition, even though I anticipated a need for new flooring, should we replace the pews as may prove likely (fear not, they will have classic design; and when folks ask, "will they have kneelers," I say, "this is me!"), I didn't include the cost, because again, not a critical need as everything else was.
So, today, I was meeting with my director of maintenance to review costs, and prepare the proposal for a $75,000 grant to provide for new flooring, and most important, new painting. And not just a fresh coat of paint, but a real improvement in the interior decoration.
Some of you wonder--will the new flooring be carpet--or something harder?
Well, that depends on several factors. We priced carpet and tile. Carpet came in at around $6 a square yard, tile at $10; other options such as wood or stone, much higher. There are other options we are exploring, such as stained and polished concrete, that may give us most of the benefit of tile at a carpet price.
I'd very much like a hard surface if possible. The benefits would be beauty, far better acoustics for music--the carpet does such a good job at absorbing sound, people don't hear others singing, so they don't sing, unless church is very full--and permanence: we would not have to replace it for a very long time. The downsides are: added cost, higher maintenance cost, and greater risk of slipping in wet and icy weather. We can compensate for the latter to some degree; so if I can bring down the initial cost, the longer life-span may compensate for the increased maintenance cost.
Also, I have a dream that someday, somehow, we will get a real pipe organ back in Saint Boniface Church. A new one would be over $300,000; but if we made the right match with another church, we might be able to obtain one for the cost of moving it--still many thousands, but well worth that to have such beautiful music back. If we ever had a pipe organ, carpeting would be a very effective way to negate its power and beauty.
As I see it, re-adorning the interior of Saint Boniface is the crowning task for the church, so that other projects can be pursued. (Meanwhile, other projects are being pursued, for the benefit of the school--but it's too soon to talk about those.) I am blessed, as a pastor, that my predecessor--who also happens to be my parochial vicar--saw to a variety of needs at Saint Mary, and the people of Saint Mary helped me with several items, such that the school, church and rectory are all now in top shape. So as these projects come to fruition for Saint Boniface, we will have two beautiful and well-maintained churches in Piqua.
Anyway, I spent several hours on this grant application; my maintenance man is getting some visual aids put together, so God willing, we will submit it by week's end.
(And if you want to help--especially if you have a pipe organ--write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)