Campus Redevelopment Project Update – May 2024

As I had reported to the parish a month ago, I had planned to organize two Parish Town Hall Meetings in May to convey and share the following:

  • Plans for the subdivision and sale of the school and convent property
  • Plan to conduct a capital campaign
  • Plan for the construction of a new parish center
  • Plan to address the legacy debt of the parish to the Archdiocese of Newark
  • Plan for identifying a new rectory location

The goal of the town hall meetings is to answer and discuss questions from parishioners regarding the campus redevelopment project. Due to the
multifaceted nature of our ambitious project, we presently do not have a sufficient amount of the definitive answers to provide so I am asking your indulgence as we postpone the Town Hall sessions until a later date. The good news is that we have taken major steps forward that require additional time to clarify and resolve.

I’d like to use this update to the parish to highlight some questions you may have. Here are some of the points that the Campus Redevelopment Committee and I, in coordination with the Finance Council, along with our legal counsel, architect and engineers, are currently addressing.

A. Do we have a Buyer for the school and convent properties?

Yes! A letter of agreement has been signed and a draft of a contract is currently being reviewed by the parish counsel and the proposed buyer’s
counsel for the purchase of the school and convent property once subdivided. The stated intention by the buyer is to renovate the school building and raze the convent building for a play area and additional parking. The buyer is a successful private day-school that empowers individuals with learning differences. The final contract is anticipated to be finalized within the next few weeks.
Important Points to Consider:
» As requirements of a signed contract, there are inspections that need to be completed to determine if there are any major environmental issues. These take time to complete.
» There are easement and joint utility usage utility usage agreements that have terms that have to be negotiated and finalized.

B. Has the Archdiocese of Newark approved the sale?

Yes, the request for permission to sell the former school and convent properties was reviewed and approved by the Archdiocese of Newark College of Consultors. However, because the dollar amount of the sale exceeds a certain threshold, approval from the Vatican is required to ensure that proper procedural and canonical steps were taken by both the parish and the archdiocese. This request has been submitted to the Vatican for approval.
Important Points to Consider:
» The College of Consultors in the Catholic Church is a diocesan body of priests (and diocesan lay/clerical officials) required by canon law. Its role is to advise the Archbishop (Cardinal) on major decisions and give consent on major financial transactions.
» For the sale of any and all Catholic School Properties including schools that have been closed for extended periods of time and convents that housed religious personnel who worked in the Catholic school, 25% of the net proceeds are retained by the Archdiocese for use towards Archdiocese Catholic School. The amount of that assessment and its terms are presently being negotiated between the parish and the Archdiocese.

C. Is the Site Plan and property subdivision application being completed to submit to the Township of Springfield for subdivision and site plan approval?

Yes. Our legal counsel is in the process of completing a draft of the application and all the required attachments to request a preliminary review meeting with the township before the submission of a final application. The Township has been very helpful to the parish in providing direction as we go through this process. The hope and plan is that a review meeting will take place sometime in the next few weeks.
Important Points to Consider:
» There are engineering estimations, assessments, findings, and reports that are required as part of the application process. Included in the parish’s site plan is the construction of a new parish center on the site where the parish rectory offices currently are. Our architect is presently coordinating the efforts of the Structural, MEP (Mechanical, Plumbing & Electrical) and Civil Engineers, each of whom has their own set of
mandates, conditions, and challenges to resolve related to the site plan application and the construction of the new parish center.

D. What about the new Parish Center? What’s the Scope of Work and how much will it cost to build?

We have two contractors who have provided preliminary cost estimates to construct the new Parish Center.
Important Points to Consider:
» While we do have a very rough estimate of the cost of the new parish center, until the engineers have completed their work the contractors cannot complete their final cost estimates. The plan is to provide this information to the contractors at the same time as it is being provided for the Site Plan and Subdivision review.

E. What is the status and timing for conducting a Capital Campaign? Why do we need to have a parish Capital Campaign?

As stated from the outset of this undertaking, to complete all the established goals set by the Campus Redevelopment Committee, parish Finance Council, and myself, it will be necessary to conduct a major parish Capital Campaign. While the sale of the school and convent property will provide a substantial cash infusion to the parish, we simply cannot achieve our goals by relying on the revenue from the sale of the school and convent properties alone. If you remember, a capital campaign feasibility study was conducted by Mr. Tom Smith, Director of the Office of Development and Stewardship of the Archdiocese of Newark, in the fall of 2022. The study found that the parish does have the giving capacity and enthusiasm to successfully conduct a major capital campaign.
Important Points to Consider:
» The timing of the Capital Campaign can only be determined once all the actions identified in the above points have been completed. A fall 2024 kick off of the capital campaign is presently planned.

F. What is the present status for replacing the rectory residence?

Properties close to the parish campus will continue to be viewed and investigated. Should the demolition of the current rectory building take place before a replacement rectory residence has been acquired, I do have contingency plans for temporary housing.

G. Has a budget and plan been established to accomplish all the established objectives?

Yes. From day one of this planning a detailed budget and cash-flow projection has been established by the Finance Council, Campus Redevelopment Committee, and me. It has been consistently updated and revised as new information has been obtained. As it guides us, it will continually be monitored, challenged, and supported with the input of all involved.

Friends, thank you for your patience and confidence. I take seriously the sacred duty entrusted to me to lead this beautiful and faithful community of faith. It is hard for me to contain the excitement and optimism I feel for the bold and bright path we are taking. More is certainly to come. As always, I ask you to join me to pray for the guidance and wisdom of the Holy Spirit.