St. Mary Star of the Sea Church
Saint Mary Star of the Sea Church
Annual Parish Report: 2011-2012
This has been a year of big changes and extraordinary challenges. We have entered a process of parish restructuring with St. Joseph Parish and Our Lady of Grace Parish to work together for the pastoral and sacramental life of the Church in our area. One result of this planning is the placing of campus ministry at Connecticut College in the pastoral care of St. Mary Parish. Practically speaking, this means that there will be a 7:00 p.m. Sunday Mass at Harkness Chapel of Connecticut College (parishioners are invited!) but the elimination of the 7:30 a.m. Sunday Mass.
This year, the Diocese announced that our beloved parish school was to close its doors after 120 years. This was because of chronic deficits in the school’s operations that have now risen to nearly $600,000. The Diocese understandably could not continue to subsidize our school with increasing debts. Our parish and its members do not have the financial ability to operate St. Mary School on our own.
As well as causing disruption and great sadness to our students and their families, the closing of St. Mary School represents a great challenge to our parish as we look to redefine our educational mission to our children and to the community that surrounds us. While the large parish subsidy for our school will no longer be needed in our parish budget, about 30 of our parish students will be attending other Catholic schools. According to Diocesan policy, our parish will provide a subsidy of $750 per child to help with their Catholic education.
A financial report for St. Mary School is not included with this report, as the final accounts for the school will close on August 31st. A financial report will be available to all who are interested early in September.
St. Mary’s is facing great challenges and opportunities in our property and its venerable buildings. Parishioners have responded remarkably to the call to repair/preserve the Church tower and front façade when it was dangerously crumbling. Please see below for more on that! There is also, of course, concern about the school building and its use. The Parish Council, augmented by concerned parishioners, has been meeting through the summer to determine how best to use this resource. More news on this will be shared in the coming weeks.
We also have been working at the repairs needed to our buildings, many of which are listed in the engineering report of 2010 as “needing immediate attention.” One of these immediate needs is the removal of the brick chimney from the rear of the Church. It has become unstable and could be dangerous in very high winds. It will be removed in September. Along with this modification, we determined that it would be wise to switch the heating of the church from oil to natural gas (which needs no chimney). This will mean a fuel savings of $12-15,000/year, enough to pay for the project within five years. It also means much reduced carbon emissions from heating our church.
As you can see from this page and from the financial report below, we are facing remarkable challenges. But we are facing them! This coming year promises a much different financial situation as well as wonderful opportunities for involvement and ministry. Thank you for your commitment to our dear parish of St. Mary’s and its mission.
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