Instead of a discussion on this week’s Gospel, I would like to provide you with an update and reflection on our North Campus property. I am aware that many of you were instrumental in the initial efforts to begin revitalizing the property prior to my arrival at the parish. It is inspiring to hear of and now see the commitment of our parishioners in their pursuit of that greater vision.
Last year, we finished several aspects of the initial phases from the original “True North” campaign. New brick and rod-iron fencing was installed, along with new security gates. The gym, which had been condemned, was removed. The parking lot was resurfaced. Wi-Fi was installed in the school, library, and auditorium. Our garden ministry continues to do a wonderful job in cleaning and beautifying the grounds, and there has been talk of future new traditions, like hosting an outdoor Stations of the Cross service. Fr Zack has seen his bee ministry grow to manage six hives, which means more honey for the Gift and Book Store. This month, much of the lighting in the auditorium will be updated or replaced, with additional outdoor lighting on the buildings also on the present docket.
There has also been growth in the number of ministries that utilize the North Campus. While the bee and garden ministries may go without saying, our bible study, book club, finance committee, Knights of Columbus, men’s prayer group, music ministry, Open Doors ministry, outreach committee, parish advisory committee, RCIA, and rosary group, along with the Sacred Heart Council of Catholic Women and Secular Franciscans all have begun to utilize the campus for their regularly scheduled meetings and events. We also have our Sacred Heart Academy Alumni group arranging luncheons to revisit the campus.
These add to the several semi-annual and annual parish events held on the property, such as new parishioner welcome dinners and advent offerings like the popular “Cookies with St Nicholas.” We continue to use the space for liturgical events at different times of the year, and the parish hosted several diocesan events at the North Campus over the last year. With parking downtown becoming more and more of an issue, it is advantageous that we have these multipurpose spaces readily available for these regular meetings. While “True North” originally looked to address other areas in phase two, I believe a project set for a later phase should be prioritized, to coincide with the usage growth of the property, and provide future opportunities for parishioners who may not be directly tied to a ministry to have more of a chance to experience the campus.
The kitchen is in desperate need of rehabilitation and remodeling. The plumbing and electric need to be updated and brought up to code. The appliances, counters, and racks are all old and may need replacing. There is no air conditioning in the kitchen, so this would also need to be added. A kitchen is the heart of any good parish event. It certainly is at the heart of one of our great ministries, Hands of Hope, who utilize the kitchen at the North Campus to make meals for the local homeless community every Saturday. For most events currently held at the North Campus, we are seeing organizers bring in food, rather than prepare it on site. Having a working kitchen would increase our ability to have more parish events at the North Campus.
By no means should we ignore the many other projects needed to modernize and revitalize the North Campus, but the kitchen should become our first priority.
From various meetings and discussions with parishioners since being installed as your pastor, I must again say how it is uplifting to see the excitement around the possibilities at the North Campus. As a parish, we need to keep that excitement flowing, and channel the event and usage possibilities being discussed, like community gardens, farmers markets, transitional housing, or developing a new chapel, into a revitalized plan and path forward for the property.
Peace and all good