To the editor: I am writing to add my opinion to the many that Mr. Jaeger gave voice to in the Feb. 11 edition regarding replacement of St. Ignatius Church.
In 2009, the concept of replacing the current historical building for a larger facility was introduced by the new priest through sermons and numerous meetings. Issues of maintenance cost and inadequate facility amenities were repeatedly stressed, however questions regarding funding and lower cost alternatives were never presented for full parish review.
In 2010, my wife, who had been the music director for 27 years, and I left and joined a new parish due to the repeated pleas for a new church. Over the last three years, we've seen an increasing number of friends leaving as well out of disagreement over the single-minded direction being set in this venture. In times of economic uncertainty and an aging parish population, it makes little sense to replace a sound historical church with an unneeded larger facility, or saddling a parish with declining attendance with the costs.
An ongoing theme of the current priest in his weekly sermons has stressed “stewardship.” Stewardship includes the obligation of care and relinquishing back to the owners at the end of one's service. This obligation of care extends to the financial health of the parish. Laying the costs of a new place of worship upon the owners – the parish, for years after the current priest's tour is served when the full costs of the replacement nor lower cost alternatives have been presented to those who will bear the bill does not meet the definition of stewardship or demonstrate a basic understanding of fiscal responsibility.
Parish generosity evident
To the editor: In a recent letter, Dave Jaeger of Oregon suggested “that it is time for some soul-searching to be done within the St. Ignatius family.”
He suggested that St. Ignatius Parish should be raising funds to help the poor of our community rather than to build a new church. Allow me to point out a few facts. St. Ignatius Parish provides monthly financial support and kitchen volunteers to St. Louis Helping Hands.
St. Ignatius Parish conducts a vibrant St. Vincent de Paul ministry with 16 members on the core committee and with hundreds of dollars donated each week by parish members, allowing the ministry to help hundreds of members of our Oregon community who are in financial need.
The Social Concerns Committee of St. Ignatius Parish coordinates a community garden with all produce being donated to Food For Thought Food Pantry and St. Louis Helping Hands. Each Advent/Christmas the St. Ignatius Parish Giving Tree Ministry helps as many as 40 families in Oregon and Toledo who are in financial distress to have a Christmas with gifts for their families.
Our Altar Rosary Society sponsors a blanket-sewing ministry, providing blankets for Heartbeat. This is a small sampling of the hours our parish members spend in service to God's people as well as the dollars that are collected to help parish members and the larger Oregon Community.
This kind of outreach has been going on at St. Ignatius Parish before, during, and I am sure will continue long after our capital campaign and building project is completed.
While Mr. Jaeger is entitled to his opinion on the need for a new church, 350 families at St. Ignatius Parish disagree with him. To suggest that families have been “strong-armed” into giving is ludicrous. Any pastor of any denomination will tell you that church members cannot be forced to give.
Their giving flows from their hearts. The vast majority of parish members at St. Ignatius have chosen to give because they see their giving, and our building of a new church, as an investment in our faith community, an investment that will enable our community to care for and minister to our parish members and the Oregon community even more effectively.
While no person or community is perfect, the faith and generosity of our St. Ignatius Catholic community cannot be questioned. Our faith is lived and vibrant, and our care for the social needs of our sisters and brothers is expressed in our deeds.
Fr. Mark J. Herzog, Pastor
St. Ignatius Parish
To the editor: We are writing in response to the letter “New church not needed.” We are current members of St. Ignatius Catholic Church and were disheartened to see this letter. We were on the committee to call parishioners to solicit pledges for the new facility and do not feel it was a “high-pressure campaign.”
If someone told us they could not afford to make a pledge, we did not call them again. Yes, we did call people two or three times, but only those who did not call us back. We have made a pledge for the new church and have not felt pressured at all.
As greeters at church at the 8 a.m. Sunday service, we watch the older parishioners and those that are disabled, struggle to get up the steps or maneuver the very long handicap ramp that is available, with no door or parking place close to it.
We have heard people say they attend other churches in the summer, due to being uncomfortable in the heat. It is also hard to feel like a close-knit church family with people sitting in four different areas of the building – no addition will fix that. It is also very difficult for people to get up to the choir loft.
How many parishioners will return or we will gain with a “state-of-art facility?” In regards to most of the parishioners being “up in years,” we are not, and there are many young families that attend every Sunday, as is evident by the number of young children that attend Sunday school.
We as a parish do help those in need in the community above and beyond the pledges made to the new church. We have a giving tree every year at Christmas that helps our parishioners in need and a few surrounding parishes. We also help St. Louis Helping Hands, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Heartbeat of Toledo, The Path of Life, Little Sisters of the Poor, Catholic Charities, Food for Thought and the list goes on and on.
We are proud to be members of this wonderful parish and are extremely excited about the new church.
Todd and Vicki Riley
To the editor: I am responding to an upsetting opinion published in The Press regarding the new church for our St. Ignatius Catholic community.
It is beyond my comprehension why this would have been done. I can tell you what St. Ignatius means to me as a very proud and active member. As Jesus taught, and as our Catholic religion believes, in life you receive the positive benefits from things when you give forth the sacrifices to achieve them. We as good stewards do not expect to receive when our goal is doing the right thing for everyone.
My grandmother, many, many years ago who struggled financially, so much that the Priest allowed her to take residence above St. Ignatius – helped with funding to build the church that so desperately needs to be replaced today. If it weren’t for their generosity, we would not have the benefit of the most beautiful community we have there today. I have no doubt that they prayed and were led to do the right thing just as we did and are doing.
We are so blessed to have the leadership of our Priest at St. Ignatius. He has been extremely cautious and concerned with this huge decision. It is an absolute correct decision on the part of all the parishioners. He had the church community make the conclusion and kept prayer at the head of it. Anyone who is involved with our church can tell you why a new church is more cost effective than the Band-Aid effect that no longer works. The difficulty with maneuvering caskets in and out, and the other mentioned difficulties are not the main reasons why the new church is necessary. Some of the factual grounds are that the outdated structure is no longer sound, and certainly is not perfect any longer. I have worn pieces of the crumbling ceiling while leaving the church.
I am one of the many members that have joined the St. Ignatius Catholic community, and feel blessed to be part of a community that I see growing. The Holy Spirit led me back to church through one of the many, many successful ministries that this church holds, Catholics Returning Home. I for one am proud of how much we do for the community.
Much of my family is buried in the cemetery. Many of them belonged to other churches as they got married and moved away, but bought their final resting place in back of a church that they belonged to at one time, and helped create so my faith could grow.
I have faith that the reason someone would have to publish such an inaccurate and hurtful opinion to so many, especially someone who attends a different church, will examine his conscious and allow prayer to lead their way.
Member St. Ignatius Catholic Community, Oregon