March 7, 2023 // Diocese
Stewardship Blossoms into Copious Works at St. Stanislaus Kostka
Father Robert Garrow often speaks to the parishes to which he is appointed about the spirituality of stewardship — particularly as it manifests in caring for facilities in a manner that preserves them for future generations of the faithful.
Through his appointments, as well as through participation on the Diocesan Budget Review Committee and the diocesan building and grounds committee, he long ago became convinced of the Church’s responsibility to maintain its physical structures.
Within recognition of time, talent, and treasure, he believes “we share what we have been given by God Himself, in recognition of how we are to take care of needs, both spiritual and the physical. In addition to the spiritual, are we maintaining properly the resources He has provided to us? As a parish we are responsible for those resources — that they are being used properly, responsibly, and always for the work of the Kingdom of God.”
Most recently, Father Garrow shared this message with St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in New Carlisle. In 2020, Garrow was installed as Pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka, which he discovered was filled with generous parishioners who possess a giving spirit born out of love for God.
However, when it came to the physical facilities of the parish, they had not always been made aware of the urgency of maintenance or repairs to its four buildings. Additionally, there was no vision plan or mission statement. “There was no plan of action,” he recalled.
First, a parish council, finance council, and building and grounds committee were put in place. Then they received from Father Garrow some difficult news about their facilities.
By that point, the more than-100-year-old church roof leaked to the point of dampening a parishioner attending Adoration; and although two stained glass windows had been stabilized by a previous pastor, another was now in danger of collapse. The kitchen in the parish hall languished under several layers of grease, 800 bricks on the exterior of the church had to be replaced, and extensive tuckpointing was needed.
Together, they acknowledged that St. Stanislaus Kostka is a traditional parish, a faith-driven parish, and that they were a family parish. From that, they came up with priorities: evangelization, faith formation or catechesis, and thirdly, the facilities.
Regarding the facilities, they have been giving sacrificially for two years as the church, parish hall, parish center, and rectory are repaired and improved. Grants were obtained from the generous Mary Cross Tippman Foundation for portions of the work.
Since 2020, projects that have been paid for and completed include:
• Church roof repair, stained glass window repair, and tuckpointing of 800 bricks
• Hardwood installed in church cry room and walls painted
• Rectory re-roofed, ceiling and wall repairs made on second floor, painting, second-floor carpet removal, and hardwood floor installation
• Parish Hall chimney replacement; painting of main storage room, coat room, back storage room, and kitchen doors; deep-cleaning of kitchen floor, walls and ceiling, and their painting; installation of LED lighting and a new music hymn board; and grotto landscaping and repair
• Kitchen floor sealed; walls, ceiling, wood trim, and cabinets repainted
• Main church parking lot resealed
• Two trees removed from parish grounds
Still on the to-do list:
• Parish Center roof and gutter replacement, new window installation, and staircase replacement; meeting space, bathroom, and ceiling painting; sidewalk repair; air conditioning installation; and technology upgrades
• Parish Hall roof, gutters, new windows, cement repair, ADA-compliant doors, and fire alarm system installation; paint throughout the building; refurbishing of kitchen main entryway and main hall flooring
• Resealing of second parking lot, additional landscaping, and sidewalk repair
• Rectory: Installation of sink and insulation, kitchen refurbishment, repair of sidewalk and steps, installation of new windows and garage doors, repair deck, remove carpeting, and install hardwood flooring
• Church paint and lighting improvements, cement repair, installation of ADA-compliant doors, repair plaster in choir loft, upgrade electric outlets and sound system, restore pews, paint, and reupholster sanctuary chairs
The length of the list surprised parishioners, many of whom have a multi-generational love for their faith home. They knew some repairs were needed, but many didn’t realize the extent of the disrepair.
The finance council, parish council, building and grounds committee, and Father Garrow turned their attention to prioritizing the projects. As the initial projects were finished, overdue rearrangements of the location of parish offices and activities took place.
Father Garrow noted that appropriate use of the facilities available, technology upgrades, and of course regular maintenance and repair are all components of the stewardship of parish facilities.
“Every parish should have a building and maintenance committee because most of our priests don’t know how to do this breadth of repairs. This isn’t something a pastor learns in seminary: We need the expertise of parishioners who work in these areas.”
A measure of both faith and prayer are necessary for members of parishes facing an urgent call to stewardship, as St. Stanislaus Kostka discovered. Transparency fortifies the spirit of the conversation, according to Father Garrow, and he hopes he has established that via a regularly issued stewardship report that presents the parish’s financial information.
“It can be hard. You finish one project, and immediately you’re looking at how to raise the funds for the next thing. After a while it comes to a breaking point: You’ve tapped out everyone that you can, and people are tired. That was a concern at St. Stanislaus Kostka, because so much was just let go. Now we’re at the point of, do we keep doing the projects that need doing? Because then you’re not leaving funds for emergencies, like if a boiler should blow or other maintenance is needed. You have to find that balance, and you have to rely on God.
When you’re in that moment, you always ask, ‘What do we do?’ God provides, but sometimes he provides with what you need to discern properly how to use what He has given you. Maybe He’s only giving you $100,000 right now and is asking you to decide what the best use of that will be … He wants you to refocus, to think about what the true need is.”
“We’re investing in this now, but it’s not just for our own people,” Father Garrow emphasized. “We’re looking for future generations to come as well. … We’ve enjoyed the fruits of the labor of others who came before us. We’re expected to maintain them and even improve them. It’s recognizing the gifts God has given and responding in kind.”
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