The following Frequently Asked Questions include questions from the Town Hall Meeting held on Thursday, May 12, 2011, and other comments/concerns heard from parishioners since Vision 20/20: Phase I was introduced in March 2011.
Where did this Vision 20/20 Master Plan come from?
Development of a master plan for the development of approximately 49 acres of St. Joseph-Honey Creek property began in the 1990s under Msgr. Nolan, continued under Msgr. Janish with construction of the new church building, and continues through today. The Pastoral Council reviews it periodically as one of their primary responsibilities. In addition, a parish survey was taken a couple of years ago. Vision 20/20 is the outcome of these master plan revisions handed down through the years from priest to priest and from the advisory.
Vision 20/20 has been divided into three phases: Phase I is infrastructure, Phase II is the Family Life Center, and Phase III is a pedestrian courtyard between the church and Daily Mass Chapel, new Festival pavilion and ball field. All three phases also provide additional parking.
The Parish Council established a Phase I Subcommittee to work on all five projects of Vision 20/20: Phase I, and the Stewardship Committee was asked to assist with marketing.
What does Phase I include?
We generally describe Phase I as Infrastructure - security, safety, and parking. The architect of our new church, who is one of our parishioners, Mark Morkovsky, also designed Phase I. More specifically, it includes:
What are the additional projects?
At this same time, but funded separately, we will be building a rectory so the priest can live on the property and also a building for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. With our stewardship of treasure implementation last fall, corresponding Promise Card success, and "building in kind" donations, we should be able to fund the rectory out of savings from weekly collections. Construction may start this summer. There is a separate bond fund for St. Vincent de Paul which periodic second collections support.
Why is this the first we've heard about Phase I and why is the Town Hall Meeting the first opportunity to comment on it?
Frankly, the Pastoral Council members and the Pastor were highly concerned about the safety of parishioners while entering and exiting the property. There have been many accidents on Hwy. 46 at the entrances, including a death. As the leaders of the parish community, they believe it is their responsibility to look out for the safety of parishioners and the security of the property, and otherwise see to the best interests of the community.
In addition, the infrastructure in Phase I is needed to make the future plans for developing the property a reality. We currently occupy only about 6 acres of the approximately 49 acres available to us.
Moving out quickly would allow the safety and security needs to be more quickly addressed. Look for more Town Halls Meetings in the future to present your ideas.
We have outgrown our Parish Hall and need a larger space for the parish community to come together. Why does the Phase I address infrastructure in lieu of a new Family Life Center?
No one can argue that we need a Family Life Center to fit the size of our parish community today. Our current Parish Hall was built when we were a parish of 150 families, and we have 1,904 enrolled today. But, we needed to take care of first things first. While we call it infrastructure, it first addresses parishioner safety, secures the property we have, and provides a parking lot that will be dual use between the church building and the future Family Life Center. The Family Life Center is Phase II, and we can start fundraising for it as soon as we complete Phase I, hopefully within a year.
What will Phase II and Phase III facilities look like? The proposed pavilion for the Festival area is not big enough.
The visual maps we have shown you are a notional/conceptual placeholder for Phases II and III. We will define them in the years ahead with many opportunities for parishioner and ministry input. We want to get it right, within a budget we can live with.
How much will Phase I cost?
We project Phase I will cost around $750,000 and hope to raise the funds in a year. Already we have seen some adjustments to this amount. As the result of parishioner suggestions, the new gates will cost about 75% less than projected. We also look for donations of "building in kind", or donations of materials, equipment, and labor. Based on a comment at the Town Hall Meeting, we are also looking into grants to help pay for the water catchment system. These efforts will combine to reduce overall cost.
Phase I is divided into projects that can be constructed incrementally. The first will be a gate for the main entrance this summer. The largest bill is the widening of Hwy. 46 to accommodate turn and acceleration lanes, and connecting Hwy. 46 to the church property line.
As of the Town Hall Meeting, two months into the campaign, we have 154 of 1,904 families with completed Commitment Cards for Phase I, a $152,623 commitment. Against that commitment, we have collected 20% of our goal - $64,684 and an additional $24,000 from the Phase I envelopes in the church pews.
Our goal is 100 percent participation by the families of St. Joseph-Honey Creek--not equal gift amounts, but equal sacrifice. The banners in the Gathering Space of the church will reflect progress in Phase I donations over time.
We hope to pay for this phase in one year without incurring more debt for the parish. We are not using a fundraising company to help with Phase I; we are doing it on our own.
As we move to the other phases, Phase II's Family Life Center and Phase III's replacement of our Festival grounds and ball field, we will have to use loans because they will cost in the millions. We will use an outside company to help with fundraising for them.
If I had known this Phase I fund drive was coming up, I would have held some back from the Archbishop's Annual Appeal.
It's true we have had three major fund drives over the last year: initiation of Stewardship of Treasure with Promise Cards for weekly collections, The Archbishop's Annual Appeal, and the Commitment Card for Vision 20/20: Phase I. If we could do it over, we would have laid these out for you more clearly. We knew the sequenced timing and had concerns about hitting you again and again, but we failed to share them with you for your planning purposes. These big three will continue into the future as Phase I is completed and moves into Phases II and III.
Will the $750,000 estimate for Phase I be enough?
We built in a 10% overage and are seeking donations of "building in kind" or donations of materials, equipment, labor, and construction. When actual work begins we will have 5 separate projects. The most costly will be the widening of the highway and building two new access roads to the church property. We hope to have the security gate installed at the existing entrance by early summer.
What is the process for involvement and approval of the Archdiocese?
Our construction plans must be approved through a two-step process within the archdiocese, their Architectural Review and Debt Review Committees. Everything is in the Archbishop's name. He, therefore, must sign off on it. We must have 50% of the funds needed for each project in the bank before we can begin construction, and we must have a plan to pay for the remaining 50% of the cost of any project. Our Commitment Card campaign provides that plan for Phase I.
Why do we need to secure the church property at night?
We have had vandalism of the cemetery, lewd and illegal conduct, and our parking lot has become an 18-wheeler truck stop. Closing gates will restrict vehicular access to the property after church-related activities have concluded each evening.
Will there be landscaping as things progress, and do we have a landscape architect?
Yes, we will landscape wisely for the Hill Country environment as the projects progress. The Phase I water catchment system will support the plantings. In the past, we have mulched any trees for landscaping and for fundraising as they were cleared to build the new church and parking lot. We can again ask the clearing company to mulch any trees that will be removed for Phase I, for these purposes.
We do not have a landscape architect at this time. We have advertised in the bulletin for one to step forward but have had no response at this time.
Suggestions for marketing Stewardship for Vision 20/20
The Town Hall Meeting generated many suggestions for "grass roots" ownership and marketing activities. Among them were: eliminating any "fluff" from the project designs, on-line surveys, involving the younger generation, neighborhood meetings, and more Town Hall Meetings. The Stewardship Committee will be reviewing and implementing them over the coming months. The Stewardship Committee welcomes your ideas. Please send them to "Ask St. Joe" on the website.
What is the average weekly mass attendance?
We are above the national average for attendance, with approximately 650, or 30-33% of enrolled families attending weekly mass. The national average is 28%.
Our parish has grown so large. Can we get a second priest?
We will probably not have an additional priest due to the number of priests retiring and dying, and there are very few going into the vocation to replace them. We have four men currently studying to become deacons, but they may not be assigned to this parish when they complete their five-year program. We have our Vocations Promotion Ministry working diligently, and the Archbishop is very aware of the need for more priests and is trying to recruit in our diocese.
Please explain the following information on the Financial Statement:
Five sessions were held (one after each weekend Mass). Parishioners attended two of the sessions, a total of six parishioners. They sought information on the following:
1. Why are we spending so much money on projects that don't need to be accomplished in the next few years? The gates are a good addition, otherwise the facilities we have are good enough. With so many parishioners out of work we don't need to spend money for things we really don't need.
Answer: In addition to securing the current entrances to the property with gates, we are concerned about the safety of parishioners and visitors as they enter and exit from the property and park along Highway 46. We recognize that the economy has an impact on many parishioners; however we cannot ignore the safety factor.
There have been several traffic accidents over the last few years; one resulted in a parishioner death and one involved a departing Blood Mobile bus. Highway 46 is generally more heavily traveled than in past years, and parish growth over the past few years means more traffic entering and exiting the property. Greater numbers increase the possibility of future accidents.
Moving the entrances off of the hill and curve to safer locations places them at either end of the property along Hwy 46. With the addition of safer entrances, we can add the additional needed parking, further reducing the possibility of accidents along the highway. Internal finished roads connecting the rest of the facilities will complete the project and prepare the property for future growth.
2. A parishioner has knowledge about rainwater catchment systems and wanted to share what he knew.
Answer: Parishioners with directly related expertise are welcome to offer their assistance with the project plans. Please initiate that contact by sending an email to the Phase I Team Leader, Billy Moore. Please provide your area of expertise and contact information.
3. What has been pledged so far and when do we plan on completing Phase I?
Answer: We hope to complete Phase I by the end of 2012. As of this Question & Answer Session, our records show that $187,955 of the needed $750,000 is documented on Commitment Cards. Phase I is divided into projects that can be completed as the money is collected. Approximately every two weeks we update the banners in the Gathering Space and the website with the amounts of money committed and raised.
4. Other questions were not related to Phase I.