My dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Welcome back to your “winter home” and other family- St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church! We are thankful that you could join us this year once again. Many of you have questions regarding the damage and repair of our church and church related and school building. Let me bring you up-to-date.
St. Elizabeth Catholic Church sustained extensive damage: all flooring, the pews, ceiling tiles, some walls, and the roof’s apex were damaged. The rectory incurred the destruction of the entire fence and some siding damage. The Parish Center needs new flooring, some window damage, ceiling repair, and a new roof. The Friary gift store needs some flooring replaced and two windows were shattered. Our church property’s damage was around $1.5 million with a $200,000 deductible. We have been given the end of February of 2018 as our return date for all buildings.
St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School, which is our primary ministry, was the most damaged school within the Diocese of Venice. The children’s school sessions were canceled for about two weeks. Flooring, walls, some equipment, and other property damage occurred because of Hurricane Irma. It is imperative that safety be eminent in our reconstruction to ensure that ALL our people, children, and families are shielded from harm’s way. The school’s damage was over $500,000 and its deductible is $123,000.
The Christ-like generosity to both the parish and the school is nothing more or less than a display of God’s inspiration. Both the parish and the school have received donations from parishioners, parishes and schools within our diocese, and those outside of the state of Florida. People had asked me, “Father, why aren’t you asking for money? Why isn’t there a capital campaign?” My response, “God has provided by and in His people.” In our honesty and transparency, we made people aware of our situation and people responded. We at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church and School are joyfully thankful for all the talent, time, and treasure. And it is YOUR commitment and conviction to YOUR faith community that is the greatest example of God’s active, salvific grace among us.
Bishop Dewane has advised parish’s not simply to replace and restore but to improve their parishes. After prayer, consultation, and discernment with the various counsels, we have assessed that among this destruction that God’s grace was reforming our faith community. The Friary gift store will return to the church, and we will use its former location to create a Eucharistic Adoration chapel and two additional meeting rooms.
We are hoping that by the end of February of 2018 that we will return to our buildings. As for the school, it has not been determined, but our children and their families, and the staff and faculty are commended for perseverance and kindness and cooperation during this challenging time. All of you have shown the true sense of “communion in community.”
And so, we encourage and invite every member to pray and ask God how she/he might share each one’s talent, time, and treasure as we move forward into 2018 and our major projects. You may contact Maria Nieburh (school principal), Jonathon Harhen (office and finace manger), or myself what is it that we need and how is it that you can participate in our parish’s endeavor. Our email addresses are in the bulletin.
Again, welcome home and God’s peace! Fr. Russell