NEW PRIEST RESIDENCE PURCHASED
FROM THE PASTOR . . .
When I met with Bishop Bonnar and Monsignor Siffrin, the Vicar General of the Diocese, to officially accept the assignment as Pastor of Saint Michael, the matter of the priest residence has been an issue. As presented to me at that time, I would have to make plans for an alternative to the current house. Initially, I planned to renovate the existing house. After some assessments, it was determined that was not the way forward. The option of a condo or house somewhere in the area was raised. There were even discussions about living permanently with another pastor at their parish. My primary goal has always been to live on the parish campus.
To that extent, plans began to be developed to build a new priest residence on the same location as the former house. As plans developed, and building costs increased, I continued to become rather hesitant about this prospect – not about living here, but about the final financial investment. A priest residence is not just another house. There needs to be space for the possibility of a seminary intern, or even a retired priest in residence. There also needs to be some proper entertainment space. The cost of such a structure which would complement the existing buildings on the campus, that while achievable, would redirect money from other needed projects and improvements.
However, with no other alternatives, with the support of the bishop, plans continued to be developed for a future priest residence. The entire time the plans were being developed, I continued to keep my eyes open and reflect on any other possibility, however limited, to achieve the set goal and decrease the final expenditures. Until a shovel hit the ground on the new foundation, I remained open and optimistic. The plans were almost completed and ready to move forward, UNTIL…
The house on the corner of Rt. 46 and Sleepy Hollow (11 Sleepy Hollow - the blue one with the four garage bays in the back) that backs up onto our property went up for sale at the end of March. While it needs various improvements and upgrades to be transformed into a priest residence, the savings between a new build and the purchase and remodel of this house is hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Even more, this option provides more space than the planned new residence would have, it gives the parish an additional acre of land, running from Sleepy Hollow to the far south parking lot, it also gives those living there a little more privacy and, given the distance, does not need to match the other buildings in the same manner, and - if had to be down the road, could be sold with no challenge to the parish (although I would not see that happening).
I presented this idea to Bishop Bonnar and Pat Kelly (the diocesan CFO - who lives in Canfield), and they agreed this is the best option. To that - Bishop Bonnar signed the purchase agreement on April 25th. On a side note, that was the 20th anniversary of my first becoming a pastor – when I had to move into an apartment in Ravenna because the rectory had been determined unlivable. A new build in Ravenna and a complete remodel in Niles and 20 years later – here I am. More importantly, here WE are. This is a great day for us all. This is not a house just for me. This is a residence for those who will also come after me as future pastors. This is a residence for future seminarian interns who will benefit from ministering in this faith community as they continue their formation. This is a residence for possible retired priests who can share their wisdom and faithfulness with us all. This is a residence that gives permanency for the future of this wonderful parish. I consider myself blessed to be one of many who will benefit from this dwelling.
We hope to begin plans for the renovation in the next week or so and hopefully, have it all completed before the first snow fall (not the one expected as I am writing this article on Tuesday!) Thank you and God bless you all.
On Wings, We Rise
– Father Lavelle
See the house HERE