ST. FRANCIS — When one thinks about “bucket lists” and “wish lists,” one expects to see a litany of the extraordinary.
Not so for the five parishes whose wishes were granted in the form of a check for $15,000 for each from the Catholic Community Foundation, Thursday, Dec. 1.
For Holy Cross Parish, Bristol, which also has a worship site nine miles away in Wilmot, the grant will provide hymnals for worshippers and help in the establishment of children’s and adult choirs.
Sandy Schmitt, parish director, said it was not uncommon on special days, e.g., Triduum, Easter, Christmas, “We will run out of hymnals before the church is half full.”
As for the choirs, the children’s choir at the 400-family parish is “going great,” and with seven people in the adult choir, “We have a good beginning,” Schmitt said.
The community center below St. Catherine Church on North 51st and West Center streets, Milwaukee, will no longer be without kitchen facilities, including a sink, according to Carole Poth, administrator of the cluster that includes St. Catherine and St. Sebastian parishes.
“We asked for suggestions from parishioners, and the community center was the center of it all,” said Poth.
In their request for an award, St. Catherine Parish, with 280 households, termed its community center “a special place of hope.” In addition to parish groups, it is used by Common Ground, a drumming group, and Alcoholics Anonymous.
Terming the award “a great blessing” for his parish of 650 families, Pallottine Fr. Davies V. Edassery, administrator of St. Lawrence Parish, St. Lawrence, said providing bathroom access for people with physical disabilities was “a most urgent need.” The church’s bathroom facilities are located on the lower level.
He said the parish will look at access options such as installing a ramp to the lower level or building restroom facilities on the church level.
“This will allow us to welcome more people into our church,” said Fr. Edassery.
At Immaculate Conception/St Mary Parish, West Bend, parishioners will be transforming the field and playground of its now-closed school into an “evangelization opportunity,” according to Fr. Nathan Reesman, pastor of the 911-family parish.
With new playground equipment, benches, lighting, landscaping and Catholic-themed art, Fr. Reesman said the playground can be a source of outreach to families and children in the neighborhood.
“This is a new chapter for us,” he said.
Fr. Phillip Schumaker, administrator of Immaculate Conception Parish, Milwaukee, and parishioners had to look no further than the corner of Kinnickinnic, Russell and Logan avenues to see a need that could be addressed with a CCF grant.
The corner includes a much-used bus stop, but it lacks shelter for riders and for the handful of homeless people in need of protection from the elements.
In order to make room for the shelter, the parish will remove a wall that borders the corner of its property.
“We have contacted the city about it, and they are supportive of it,” Fr. Schumaker said, adding that a shrine dedicated to Our Lady of the Streets will be erected adjacent to the shelter, as will new signage.
“We hope this reaches out to people (at that corner),” he said of the evangelization opportunity. “We’re going to let them know, ‘We’re praying for you.’”
The grants were a promotion linked to the CCF’s 15th anniversary. All 199 parishes in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee were invited to participate; 53 submitted “wish list” requests. Money could not be used as part of the parish’s operating budget or for an existing program.
In exchange for an opportunity to vie for one of the grants, parishes were required to read a short description about CCF at all of the Masses during a weekend in May or June, and inform the congregation about the contest and solicit parishioner involvement in it. A CCF information sheet also had to be inserted in a weekend’s bulletins.
Mary Ellen Markowski, president of CCF, told the more than 160 people gathered for the awards ceremony at the University Club in Milwaukee, that while it wasn’t intended, the letters of the foundation’s theme for this year – HOPE – were relevant to the contest.
The H, she explained, was “How are we going to celebrate our anniversary?” The O was “Opportunity for parishes to be able to win $15,000 from us.” P – “What better way to promote ourselves in the parish community?” and E – “Engage parishes and community in a fun project.”
The 17 members of the CCF board of directors judged the entries after the names of the submitting parishes were removed.
“These five (winning entries) rose to the top,” she said.
Markowski told the Catholic Herald the spectrum of requests included “a lot of speaker systems, prayer gardens, new programs, moving tabernacles into worship spaces, signage, flooring and video equipment.”
She added, “We wanted to do something special and meaningful – and we did.”