Videos and Picture Slide Shows
Church Renovation Picture Gallery [Photos]
Church Renovation Video [New Video! posted 3-25-2013]
Church Renovation – Week 1 [Video]
Temporary Chapel [Video]
The blessing and dedication of our church renovations is complete! Thank you to Bishop Zubik for celebrating the Mass for us. A special thank you goes out to all who worked hard and sacrificed to make this day possible!
History of the Project
A Town Hall meeting on the proposed parish renovation was held on February 16, 2011. The presentation by ASTORINO Architects gives:
- a background of their work in church renovations throughout the United States and at the Vatican,
- the design criteria, essential improvements and arrangement analysis of our existing church,
- proposed improvements to the layout addressing the essential needs and stressing the reuse of the existing appointments,
- and cost breakdowns.
A question and answer session followed with Fr. Mike and the architects, answering the parishioner’s questions. Approximately 400 to 500 people attended the meeting.
CHURCH RENOVATION MEETING
February 16, 2011
Opening Presentation by Fr. Michael Caridi
As you may recall when I arrived here at Saint Louise in July of 2008, I was informed by the Finance Council that earlier that year in January or February the parish had embarked on a jubilee capital campaign.
To that end, the parish had hired and signed a contract with the Cunneen Company, a reputable fundraising firm. The purpose of the Capital Campaign was to secure the financial footing of the parish and to make significant improvements to our facilities in observance of the 50th anniversary of the parish.
However, because of the turmoil that befell the parish in early 2008, the Campaign had never really gotten off the ground – in a sense, it had stalled.
Nevertheless, the Finance Council strongly felt that we should move forward with the Capital Campaign for a couple different reasons: first of all, the parish really needed the money to accomplish the goals, and, secondly, the parish had paid a significant fee to the fundraising company and it would be a shame to have wasted that money.
Nevertheless, because of the difficulties the parish had gone through and the fact that I was brand new to the parish, I was very reticent to re-start the Campaign despite the Finance Council’s recommendation that I do so.
Therefore, I took the issue before the Pastoral Council and asked for their advice. And as a body they disagreed with me and strongly recommended that the Capital Campaign move forward. I listened to what they were saying and accepted their recommendation and began to study the goals of the Campaign more closely.
What I discovered was that there were many worthy projects associated with it. For example, paying off the parish’s debt, renovating the school cafeteria, roofing and HVAC projects, parking lot repaving, etc…
However, there were no plans to do anything at all with the interior of the church building. To me, this was a real deficiency that severely diminished the Campaigns prospects for success for two reasons:
- First of all, the church is the building that the vast majority of parishioners regularly utilize – and for many, it is the only building they utilize. If we were going to attract more people to pledge, it seemed to me that some sort of plan for church renovations would make the Campaign more appealing to the general parish membership.
- Secondly, although it had been 8 or 9 years since the previous capital campaign, I had heard from both the Pastoral and Finance Councils and other parishioners that there were still some hard feelings lingering over unmet expectations of that campaign.
Why? Because one of the main goals of the earlier campaign was a proposal to extensively renovate and expand the church by breaking out the back walls to reconfigure and add seating amongst other things. This goal was never achieved, and many parishioners who gave to that campaign for that express purpose were still upset.
It seemed to me that in order to successfully reach them and have them participate in this Jubilee Campaign, then there should be something proposed for the church.
So, at that point I returned to both the Finance and Pastoral Councils and recommended that some sort of modest sanctuary renovation be a part of our Jubilee Campaign. And although at that early point of late summer 2008 I wasn’t yet sure what that meant, I was very clear in saying that it would at least mean having a sanctuary design that had a crucifix, tabernacle and altar at its central axis, viewable to the entire congregation, and that statues of Mary and Joseph would some how be incorporated into the design.
All of these were concerns that I shared with many parishioners who voiced them to me, not only in the time I served as pastor, but also in my prior assignment here as parochial vicar.
It’s important to note that at these meetings of the Councils this idea for a church sanctuary renovation was discussed and approved. In fact, I do not recall any member of either Council stating they were against the idea – nor did any member of either Council advise me not to go forward with the plan.
After these series of meetings were completed, in November of 2008 I wrote to our auxiliary bishop, Bishop Bradley, seeking permission to incorporate a sanctuary renovation project into our Campaign. That permission was granted.
Therefore, beginning in the late fall of 2008 when the Finance Council hosted a series of receptions to make appeals for the Campaign and then on a Sunday in February of 2009 in our general mass appeal to the whole parish, I stated explicitly in my presentations – and this was also clearly reflected in the Campaign literature – that there were four major goals envisioned for the Jubilee Capital Campaign:
- To pay off the parish debt of approximately $700,000;
- the renovation of the school cafeteria and kitchen;
- the renovation of the church’s sanctuary and interior; and
- the establishment of an emergency fund for future projects.
Regarding the church renovations, in all my presentations I stated the following words verbatim:
I’m very excited about a modest renovation to our church’s interior and sanctuary that will bring us more into compliance with contemporary liturgical principles and enhance our worship experience. For example, we should and will have a crucifix in the center of the sanctuary as a reminder to all of us that when we offer Mass we are remembering and re-presenting the Good Friday sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary. Also, the tabernacle with the Real Presence of Christ should be at the center axis of our sanctuary, where everyone can see it and be reminded that Christ is to be the central focus of everything we do as a Catholic community. Further the statues of Mary and Joseph and our patroness, Saint Louise, should be moved into the main body of the church, so that when we worship we would recall that we are engaged in the heavenly liturgy with our faith heroes, the saints.
Now, to be honest, at this time of appeal there was a small number of parishioners during who expressed to me that for a variety of reasons that they were opposed to any renovations to the church’s interior.
Nevertheless, despite the fact that there were no concrete plans yet formulated as to how the renovation would play out, the Finance Council and I were quite edified by the success of the appeal. Because in early 2009, at the height of the terrible financial crisis, our appeal garnered $3.4 million in pledges to be paid over the next several years, more than enough to accomplish the four initiatives stated above. And to me, the success of our appeal was and remains a very clear indication of broad parish-wide support of the four goals associated with the Campaign, including the church renovations.
Following the appeal phase of the Campaign, the parish received permission from the Diocese to retain the services of the Astorino architectural firm. Astorino was chosen because of the substantial amount of church work they have done both locally and even internationally, particularly with more contemporary structures as our own.
And so Lou Astorino and his team were asked to develop some exploratory design concepts. These concepts were presented to the newly formed Church Renovation Committee in March of 2009. This committee includes representatives from both the Pastoral and Finance Councils as well as other parishioners with various professional backgrounds who can assist with the project.
At that March 2009 meeting we weighed these early proposals against two church documents that govern church renovations: the norms of the United States’ Bishops Conference and the norms of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Based on this review, we asked the architects to go back to the drawing board to further address some issues that had arisen.
However, for almost a year and a half, between March of 2009 and October of 2010, not much had happened with the project, since during that time the parish was immersed in the school cafeteria project. Once the cafeteria project was completed, it was time to get the ball rolling again – so on October 5th the architects and I went before the Diocesan Building Commission to present to them the earlier drawings and explain the direction in which the project seemed to be headed. In general, the Commission was pleased with the concept and directed me to hold tonight’s “town hall” type of meeting with the parish.
In preparation for this meeting, the whole membership of both the Pastoral and Finance Councils as well as the Renovation Committee have met twice with the architects to discuss, critique, debate and modify the proposal.
And so, at this point, I’d like to invite Lou Astorino forward to present to us what his team proposes for the jubilee year renovation of Saint Louise de Marillac Church.