The Parish Pastoral Council, as well as individual parishioners, have asked that I give an update on some of the issues concerning parish buildings. So please bear with me as I try to do that today.
My friends, in Greenpoint there is talk that our parish is very rich because we have seven buildings – the church, rectory, old school, new school, the convent, the Polish CCD Building and the small residential building. But what type of wealth is this if all the buildings are between 60 and 115 years old, are used for non-income producing purposes, and above all, are very expensive to keep in good condition?
In the church in previous months, the following was done: the roof above the sacristy was repaired, we added speakers for better sound, we cleaned and polished the marble floor in the sanctuary, we added handrails going up to the sanctuary, we added lighting to the confessionals in both churches, improved lighting on the altar, we restored and repainted the four side altars and statues standing on them, we purchased new eternal lamps, and at the same time there were other minor repairs being carried out in the church, followed by repainting. In response to a federal ruling, we had to change the frequency of our sound system, and we replaced the lightning rods in our church. Some of the parish sidewalks were repaired, a new informational sign was installed in front of the church, the roof of the Polish CCD building was repaired, we replaced windows in the gym, the bathrooms in the annex were repaired, a few of the rooms in the annex building were renovated, including the final room that houses our Flea Market, thus the delay in opening this year. The roof on the rectory was repaired and reinforced; some rooms in the convent were repaired and repainted as well as the corridor in the rectory. The telephone and internet in the parish rectory was updated.
These are jobs which were carried out as a result of our mutual concern for our mutual possessions, and all thanks to the generosity of You, dear parishioners and friends of the parish. Your time, talents and financial support achieved many good results. And for all of this, I bow my head before you with sincere gratitude.
There are other major issues that keep me awake at night, in which I have invested uncountable hours, and yet, the effect of which is not even visible. That is, three years ago when I was appointed pastor of this parish, the first request made of me by the PPC and many individual parishioners, was that air conditioning be installed in our church. And please believe me, I took this request to heart and from that moment on, I have been investigating all our options regarding a cooling system in the church. During this period, there were meetings with many companies with expertise in installing these types of systems. Experts discussed which type of system would be most effective and functional, easy to maintain, economical yet would not destroy the magnificence of our church. There is a Polish saying, the deeper into the forest, the more trees. And thus describes this project.
Right from the start, we realized that our church did not have architectural plans. So one of our parishioners, an architect, had undertaken this tedious project. With great patience, he measured every nook and cranny of the church, every bend in the walls, and the thickness of the bricks and input all the information into his own computer.
The completed plans were then given to an engineering firm, to calculate the technical specifications required in the system. After many months we received the specs, unfortunately, the architectural team had doubts whether this would provide sufficient cooling in our church. We then turned to specialists for their analysis, but after many weeks (these) plans changed again, and we began investigating the possibility of using geothermal energy, that is, using water from underground to cool in the summer and heat in the winter.
Excavation was supposed to have been done by the end of June, however, this also moved at a snail’s pace. First we needed permits, and then it was hurricane Irene, and then other obstacles. Finally, a few weeks ago, and many witnessed this, equipment was brought in to drill between the church and rectory for groundwater. Unfortunately, the equipment was not strong enough, breaking the massive drill bits with each attempt, causing more delays while we waited for bigger equipment.
The next delay was caused by the sudden death of the lead architect of the project, Mr. Edvin Stromsten, who died of a massive heart attack at the beginning of September.
A year ago, I was convinced that the past summer would be easier to survive because there would be air conditioning; and now, my hope, even though waning, is that in June we will be starting up the cooling system.
In summary, plans to replace the boiler that heats the church, CCD building and annex, are still a reality. However, we are attempting to integrate the heating and cooling systems, and if we succeed in installing a combination system in the church, we will be able to install a smaller and more energy efficient boiler in the annex and the CCD building. I just want to reiterate, that the funds collected by Fr. Urbaniak for the boiler remain in a special account, and will be used for this purpose only.
Another project, which just became necessary is that of repairing our pipe organ which has 2450 pipes and four manual features. More than 15 years ago, an American company gave us an estimate to overhaul the organ that was deemed unaffordable, so the project was abandoned. Unfortunately, the time has come, that minor repairs are no longer sufficient, but the reality is that we must save our organ. Thank God, that an organ expert has been found who can repair the organ and secure it for many years to come for a third of the estimated cost of 15 years ago. The repairs will take about 2 years, and the good news is that the organ will continue to be fully functional at all times. We will be saving a magnificent instrument from ruin, so that it will continue to play for the glory of God and continue to inspire us to deeper prayer for many years to come.
I commend these matters to your prayers, so that no other obstacles will interfere with the implementation and completion of the projects long awaited by our parishioners. Even though the projects are very expensive, together we will manage. Let us pray also that those who will be working on these major undertakings will do so with dedication, and a desire to complete the projects successfully.
I entrust these matters to your generosity, dear parishioners and guests of our church, and, for the kindness already received, I extend my sincere thanks.