Planning for the future of our Parish

Church Expansion Frequently Asked Questions [Updated June 17, 2016]

This Q & A is in addition to the information provided in the town hall presentation. Please click here to review the full presentation.

Click on a question to see or hide the answer.

Do we have permission to expand the church from Diocese?

  • Yes, we received permission from the Diocese to determine the financial feasibility of conducting a fund raising campaign and engage an architect to develop a set of conceptual design drawings and renderings
  • The Diocese approved our application for the campaign and additional authorization was granted to apply for the variances required to implement the design from Franklin Township as well as our ability to enter into an agreement with the architectural firm to begin the detailed design phase of the expansion project (initial kickoff meeting with architect held on June 6th)

What is the expected role/support from the Diocese? Will the Diocese contribute to the project?

  • Legal services, technical assistance and liturgical design support is available from various Diocesan departments, at no charge
  • The Diocese has a loan program, at competitive rates with commercial lenders, should financial assistance be necessary

Does the Church have debt/savings?

  • The Church currently has no outstanding debts. Additionally, the Financial Council has authorized $500,000 of the $700,000 of Parish reserve funds

Have the weekly collections gone down?

  • Offertory has remained about the same.
  • It has not increased to adjust for either inflation, aging infrastructure or increased activities

Do we have permission from the town? Why raise money and then be turned down? We know from the past about all the red tape.

  • A significant amount of expense is often incurred prior to and during the permit application process
  • It is important that Parishes don’t deplete their operating budget during the process
  • Having Parishioners fully committed to the project is an important cooperative and financial support factor

Will variances be required for the Church project?

  • A representative of the parish met with the zoning department for a preliminary (although not official) determination
  • We will need a conditional use variance and a set-back variance for Pittstown Road- We don’t anticipate either being a problem

Why wasn’t the Church added to before?

  • There was not enough property.
  • We were not sure if Mrs. Raymonds would want it. (We have since received permission from John Raymonds.)

When will we break ground and complete the Church project?

  • We will start the process after Diocesan approval and will take about 1-1 1/2 years to complete.
  • Total time frame is 2 1/2-3 years

How many seats with the new church have and will it eliminate the need for seating in the undercroft?

  • There will be 338 seats in the new church including the transepts, narthex and rear chapel/crying room.
  • There is enough seating in the main church to eliminate the televised Masses in the undercroft.

Will the undercroft extend under the new addition? How will the undercroft be configured and for what use?

  • Yes, the undercroft will extend under the entire new addition and will contain:
    • A larger, dividable meeting room
    • Additional office space

How will the undercroft be configured and for what use?

  • A larger, dividable meeting room
  • Additional office space
  • Probable elimination of televised Masses

Will the expanded church attract new parishioners? Are there parishioners from small churches that may use this church?

  • We don’t know what the Diocese plans are - There may be some parishioners who left because the church was too small who decide to come back

What is the projected growth rate for this Parish in the next 5-10 years?

  • Modest growth in the parish the last several years. ~6-8 families per year joining the parish.
  • Demographic report from the Diocese, April 2013 showed a 0.4% growth in population in our area from 2012 -17 (5yrs) and a 1.8% growth extended to 2022 (10yrs)

What is the Five-Year plan for the Parish and properties? (Please see the Town Hall presentation for details)

  • Study feasibility of increasing Church seating capacity to 300+
    • Project Goal #1 – Maintain aesthetics of St. Catherine’s
    • Project Goal #2 – Incorporate cost-reducing technologies
    • Project Goal #3 – Include pending maintenance projects
  • Present expansion plan to Diocese for approval
  • Upon approval, begin fund-raising and detailed design
  • Identify maintenance projects for inclusion in expansion plans
  • Use the Parish Center throughout construction (2–4 years)
  • Reconfigure the Center to more easily accommodate Religious Education and other Parish functions
  • Continue ongoing maintenance of the three buildings on two properties
  • Work to reduce operating costs of all Parish assets

What is the 10-year plan for the Parish and properties? (Please see the Town Hall presentation for details)

  • Create a St. Catherine Religious Community Campus
    • Take full advantage of three adjoining properties
    • Church
    • Rectory
    • Adjoining lot
  • Build an Education/Community Center on White Bridge Road
    • Maintain aesthetics of original Church
    • Base design on religious education requirements and realistic ministry/community needs
    • Utilize Green technology
  • Upon completion of the new Community Center, sell the existing Parish Center to partially offset construction costs
    • Eliminate second site operating expense burden of the Parish Center

Will the parish short and long range plan accommodate the growth? Will this plan give us enough space or too much space?

  • This plan should accommodate that amount of growth for 10 to 15 years
  • An additional weekend Mass would handle growth for several decades beyond
  • We can’t predict what will happen – currently we are growing by a few families a year

How much property does the Parish own and where is the property located?

  • The church, rectory and adjoining property in Franklin totals 13.44 acres
  • The Parish Center in Union is built on 7.36 acres

What is the status of the 10 acres on Mt. Salem?

  • The parish never paid for it, the Diocese still owns it

What happened to all the money that was pledged to the prior campaign in 2000?

  • $1.2M was raised in the original campaign. It was all used toward the purchase and development of the Parish Center.

What did it cost to buy and develop the Parish Center?

  • Total costs approached $1.5M
  • $1.2M was used from the campaign contributions; additional dollars came from a loan the parish took out with the Diocese which has since been paid back (See below for the detailed breakdown of Parish Center costs)
Parish Center Cost Summary
Purchase of the Lutheran Church$850,000
Engineering Fees47,094
Parking lot expansion, excavation, detention basin, storm drainage, curbs, pavement450,000
Installation of indoor and outdoor electricity31,500
300 Chairs25,785
Church Furnishings16,267
Church Organ3,000

How will the Parish Center be used?

  • The plan is to support the Religious Education program and to offset as much rental expense as possible
  • The facility will continue to fill the critical need of serving as community space for our ministries, organizational activities and Parish events, such as Camp St. Catherine and community dinners
  • It needs to be maintained for current use and as a future asset

Was there ever a consideration to use the Parish Center property for the whole campus?

  • There isn't enough land.
  • The Bishop always wanted it where the current church is.

Will we sell the Parish Center?

  • Not immediately - It is a critical support element in Parish operations today.
  • It needs to be maintained for current use and as a future asset.
  • It could be sold after the dedication of the new Center.

How can the Parish Center be configured for Religious Education classes?

  • We are currently looking into the following possibilities:
    • Lowering the ceiling and improving lighting quality and economy
    • Installing movable acoustical panels to facilitate classrooms (will not eliminate all of the need for rentals) while maintaining community function capability

How many young people will stay active in our Church?

  • There is no way to predict, for certain, how active our youth will be in the future. However, our goal is to provide a strong program to keep our young parishioners engaged.
  • A Diocese report indicated the following for our area:
    • Early Elementary children ages 5-9 yrs., projected to increase as a percentage of children between 5-18 by 2.6%.
    • Middle School children ages 10-14 yrs., increasing as a percentage of children between 5-18 by 4.4%.
    • High School aged children 15-18 yrs., declining as a percentage of children between 5 -18 by -7.1%.
    • Overall, children are aging through but there is some evidence of a resurgence of children in the younger years.
    • If you assume all these children are Catholic, and use the national survey data, 25% of those children would be active in Church, meaning only attend Mass

What has the trend been in Religious Education over the last 10 years?

  • The peak attendance in our programs was 375 about 6-7 years ago
  • It went down to 325 but now there is an uptick in the enrollment for First communion
  • We use about 15-16 classrooms.

Why can’t we use space at Immaculate Conception for Religious Education?

  • Numerous requests to use their facilities have been declined.
  • Their religious education program uses their classrooms, as does a Boy Scout Troop and ministries

Who will buy the Parish Center when we are ready to sell it?

The building is highly adaptable as:
  • Administrative or service space by dividing it into offices or work areas
  • Computer or appliance repair
  • Small warehouse or distribution operations
  • Child care facility or senior center.

Are we effectively using all properties – are we maximizing the space in the Rectory? Can the Rectory be used for offices?

  • The Diocese designated the residence as a Rectory and additional clergy may be assigned there
  • Diocesan policy precludes children being admitted into any buildings being used as residences
  • The rectory was designed as a one floor, single family residence and major alterations would be required to change its use to public access office space
  • However, it is currently being used to alleviate the Parish’s storage space shortage

Can we afford the upkeep on a larger building?

  • By utilizing energy efficient equipment operating costs per square foot will be lower

What is the finance council? Is it a parish committee or Diocesan?

  • We have an internal finance committee comprised of Parishioners and staff.

Is there a capital maintenance fund for future maintenance?

  • Yes – Maintenance is figured into future budgets.

What will happen if we do not build and expand?

  • Parishioner growth will be accommodated by additional Masses on the weekends
  • Holiday overcrowding will become even more pronounced
  • Parish functions will continue to be space limited
  • Ministries, organizations and other activities will increasingly need to rent space for functions
  • Event and meeting scheduling conflicts will increase
  • Parish operating costs will continue to rise
  • Maintenance projects will be supported by regular offertory funds
St. Catherine of Siena Roman Catholic Church | 2 Whitebridge Rd., Pittstown, NJ 08867 | phone: 908-735-4024 | All rights reserved. Please read our privacy policy.