Wednesday, December 3, 2008

CMH Rectory Renovation Underway

photo by Kevin Harnack/Waukesha Freeman
From page 1, above the fold, CMH head looks to strengthen commitment to the school . It is always nice to see positive developments on the front page.
As I noted in the December newsletter to CMH families, while there has been a great response of people stepping up to offer services for the Rectory Renovation, there is still more to be hoped for. We need to keep actual costs to the school as low as possible. Some big areas of need remain -- plumbing, roofing, and flooring. But, if there is any help you can offer in any area, please don't hesitate to contact Mike Giffhorn, .
If you are interested in more detail, when the CMH Board of Directors considered the Rectory project, a "case statement" was developed. It is attached below. (If you are not interested, just skip over it.)
Advent Blessings to all.
Fr. Paul

Apostolic Center

In the last decades, Catholic and Protestant Churches have procured the term “rectory” to mean simply the house provided by a parish in which its minister would live. It would from the word’s deeper meaning that we think of a notion of the compensation provided to the leader of the parish community being given in such a way that the priest would be more present, more identifiable, and more integrated into the community over which he had pastoral care. Intuitively, the sign value of a rectory was known to reflect hands on leadership and constancy of effort.

In 1958, when Fr. John Hanley was appointed principal of Catholic Memorial High School he placed great value on the constancy of presence that he, and the other priests assigned to CMH, should have. To that end, he built the present priests’ house, or rectory, on College Avenue, just east of the original school building. That building still stands solidly, adjacent to the upper student parking lot.

Since the last consistent priest residents left nearly eight years ago, the building has served a hodgepodge of office, storage, and transient purposes. In the last twenty years, the building, while structurally solid, has fallen into disrepair. Additionally, looking prospectively, its original design for five priests and a live-in housekeeper being niched into small private spaces, is not conducive to the best uses that CMH’s leadership, communal, and pastoral needs demand in this day and age.

An Apostolic House –

Six years ago, shortly after his arrival as Archbishop of Milwaukee, Archbishop Timothy Dolan asked that diocesan priests give more serious consideration to living in somewhat central, common rectories. Not only does this afford the priests some fraternal support, it maximizes the sign value of the priests living in the midst of pastoral communities. Unfortunately, as most rectories were converted into parish centers and office spaces, suitable facilities for Apostolic Houses are few in number.

While the CMH rectory was originally designed to house five priests, a proposed configuration would be for three priests: one serving at CMH as president or chaplain, and two from nearby ministry assignments. On the second floor of the house, two priest suites (a small bedroom, sitting room and private bath) would remain as originally designed. The two remaining suites would become space for a studio-type room with bath, a residents’ gathering area, and an Adoration Chapel suitable for prayer or a priest’s private celebration of mass.

It should be noted that, in conformity to the Archdiocesan Priest Compensation Policies, each resident priest would pay to CMH a monthly rent as fairly set by CMH as landlord. Thus, an apostolic house could mark a revenue stream for the institution.

A Leadership House –

Presently, the first floor of the house consists of a priest’s suite, a housekeeper’s suite, a kitchen and a living room. Notice that, other than what many would call a “breakfast nook” in the kitchen, this house, built for six, has no dining room. Looking into the future, CMH needs a space suitable for sit-down gatherings of eight to twenty alumni, parents, community members, etc. (Yes, that means donors.)

In the proposed re-configuration the first floor of the House would include a formal dining room, an open space living room and renovated kitchen, a library which opens easily into the living room or the dining room and a small guest room with bath. Notably, all of these public rooms will be wired with all of the conference-type audio-visual options. In both the near term, and the long-term, these spaces would be at the disposal of the resident priests to coordinate meeting or presentation offerings to CMH community and stakeholder groups.

A Community House –

In the original design of the House, the one intentionally public space was the lower level “rec room”. A blonde-paneled space reflective of its day, Fr. Hanley is known to have often said that it was in that space that the funds for the south building of the school and the Weber Gym were raised. It was also the space were the priests of the school often hosted the school’s faculty (or other groups) socially. In this way, CMH became a community of family and friends, and not simply a place of educational business.

The proposed renovations of the House do not change this space significantly other than to perform the required asbestos abatement and some updating of utilities and appliances.

A Community Project –

If efforts to bring the Apostolic Center to fruition were pursued as a fully contracted construction project, costs could run to approximately $140,000. Given the times we live in, many would have bona fide reasons to question such a direct outlay of CMH’s somewhat limited resources. But, given the short and long-terms benefits of the project, a community investment in this project can take many forms.

Presently, members of the CMH Board’s Facilities Committee are exploring the possibilities of in-kind donations of professional and trade skills (i.e. carpentry, electric, plumbing, masonry, etc.) as well as supplies. Plans are being developed for volunteer coordination and performance of many tasks (i.e. demolition, interior design, painting, cleaning, etc.).

Looking Forward –

CMH has many needs before it these days, and a mere house for the priest should not take precedence over many other worthy efforts when it comes to significant cash outlays. But, given the many benefits that could flow from the proper use of this building, encouragement of grass-roots, volunteer efforts, exploration of in-kind and donated services, and the investment of significant community enthusiasm will make this a very forward looking project where success builds on effort, and effort builds on optimism for CMH’s future.

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