Donate to Urgent Parish Needs
Faith Direct also allows you to make donations for specific needs within the Parish. Below you’ll find more information about some of our most pressing Parish needs, and how you can support them if you so choose.
Christ is our firm foundation, but we need a new floor…
Over the years, the parish has managed to purchase all the properties on our block, for the purpose of future expansion. We were fortunate to do this, even with the rapid gentrification of Manchester, our immediate neighborhood. We now own 4.22 acres near downtown Richmond. We have a number of projects to our current buildings: roof repair, window and HVAC replacement in the former school building which houses parish offices and Sacred Heart Center, our sister organization; landscaping and “hardscaping” around the church for safety and better pedestrian flow; a master plan project for our campus that the diocese asked us to undertake; and eventually, a new church.
We’re starting with the church floor. We knew we had issues when the spaces between the marble altar steps began to separate and we had “sponginess” (that is a technical term, I have discovered) in parts of the floor.
When our church building was built 119 years ago, much of the floor was built almost directly above the ground with only a small crawl space. That was common in Richmond then. Also common in our part of Richmond, then and now, is a high water table. Over the years, moisture and insects have compromised the integrity of the floor.
Since the majority of our parishioners work in construction, many of our own people explored underneath the church. I received a call one night. “Father, we have good news and bad news.” I thought, “Well, we can only get better from ‘bad’.” So I was told, “The bad news is we need a new floor.” I said, “Alright, what then, is the good news?” “We will donate all the labor and half of the material.” Three of the people who did the evaluation have their own companies. Somewhat encouraged, I went to the diocese, which responded with appropriate cautiousness, “get an engineer’s opinion.” We did, and the engineer said, “Father, you need a new floor.” Their report included the ominous “possible failure in localized locations.”
We now have the architectural plans, contractors and workers who will volunteer labor and donate material, and thankfully, a general contractor eager to work with this approach. We also have secured cement and masonry people, carpenters, painters, electricians and mechanical (our HVAC is under the church floor). The whole cost of the project is just under $200,000, but with the donated labor, we expect this to be substantially lower.
This is actually a model we have used consistently in our cash-poor-but-muscle-rich parish. When we had to tear down four buildings on property we purchased and re-grade the land, I never saw a bill.
When we redid the sidewalk and large gathering space in front of the building which houses the parish offices and Sacred Heart Center, I simply bought soda for the workers.
When the rectory kitchen was rebuilt and modernized (same problem of moisture and rotting floor), I asked some parish contractors if the rectory was sinking. They said, “No, we know how to fix this and we will do it.” Three weeks later, we had a new kitchen, completely rewired with new plumbing, refurbished cabinets and granite counter tops. When they finished the work, I made them dinner.
Recently, we were given an important historic Hook and Hastings organ from the Baptist church two blocks away which closed and was sold. I talked the organ builder we are working with (who works on many organs in the area, including the Cathedral’s organ) into using parish volunteers under his supervision to dismantle the organ and prepare it for shipping to his workshop in Baltimore. The work was planned to take five days. Our parishioners did it in just over two. We hope to have the repaired organ installed in our church in late spring of 2021. One of the volunteers said, “Father, please tell me when the organ will be installed, I want to arrange to take off work to come and do this.” He works in construction—drywall and painting, and is a guitarist in one of our choirs.
Most recently, parishioners rehabbed an old house on our property. Initially we had hoped to rent it to Catholic Charities to house a refugee family. In the meantime, we housed two parish families whose homes had burned in a fire. Now the building is being further upgraded to accommodate increased office space for Sacred Heart Center.
This is the parish and people I am asking you to help. They are not immune from any of the struggles we all deal with day to day. Like all of you in your own parish projects, they have taken responsibility to build their faith community and provide what that community needs. They are eager to rebuild the floor. I am asking you for some loaves and fishes so that God can work through their hands for our church.
Click Here to Support Our New Floor
Help children and families with sacramental preparation…
Religious education is starting again in October, but we can’t have everyone back at the same time. None of the public school systems in the region is in person for the start of the school year.
Our new religious education coordinator, Yenni Leon, a graduate of the National Polytechnic Institute of Mexico, one of the country’s most prominent universities, has designed a virtual religious education program which involves the participation of the whole family in catechesis while at the same time helps parents develop digital platform skills. Once a month groups of families are invited (if they feel comfortable) to socially distanced Mass and a religious education event. Prior to beginning at Sacred Heart, Ms. Leon worked in Richmond Diocese Catholic Schools helping recently arrived Spanish speaking immigrant families navigate the world of Catholic schools.
Our baptism preparation program is beginning again after a pandemic hiatus. This program was designed by a team of parishioners, a Honduran scholastic and the Hispanic Ministry Coordinator for the Charlotte Diocese, who also has a specialty in youth and Ignatian Spirituality. The program has parents and godparents pray and reflect on Christian parenting from the perspective of the immigrant experience. It has been highlighted as a model by the US East Province in its Latino parish ministry gatherings.
A gift of $750 covers the cost per week of our baptism preparation and religious education programs (confirmation and first communion).
Click Here to Support Religious Education