Update on the Campus Redevelopment

I am happy to report that much has been happening behind the scenes to achieve the established objectives set by the Campus Redevelopment Committee. As a reminder the established objectives that any sale of the property must meet are to:

  • Produce an end use for the property that would be in synergy with the mission of the parish community.
  • Provide a means for the parish to extinguish the parish debt to the Archdiocese.
  • Provide an on-going revenue stream for the parish.
  • Assist in building a new parish center and replacement of the rectory (in conjunction with funds from a parish capital campaign).

Listed below are bullet points of some of the many things that have been accomplished to date behind the scenes. I urge you to take the time to read them since they will answer some of your immediate questions.

  1. Agreement Established for the Sale of the School/Convent Property
    An agreement has been reached between St. James the Apostle Church and The Winston School of Short Hills for the sale of a portion of St. James property that includes the school and the former convent. The Winston School is a private special education school for children grades 1-8. Their intended plans are to renovate the existing school building and to raze the former convent building for use as recreational space and parking.
  2. Parish Capital Campaign
    Over the summer of 2022 a capital campaign feasibility study was conducted to determine the parish’s potential giving capacity and to test the Capital Campaign Case Statement (i.e. construction of a new parish center). The result of the feasibility study, which was presented to the parish in the fall of 2022, reflected a positive giving capacity and a substantial and enthusiastic support among respondents for the case statement. Our goal is to launch a capital campaign in the very near future with the goal of constructing a new parish center.
  3. The Proposed Plans for the new Parish Center
    Our Architect has been updating the plans for the new parish center now that its exact location has been defined based on the property subdivision line. Besides event space on the main floor with a kitchen and parish office space being defined, plans for the second floor for optional classroom space as well as potential classroom space on the lower level plus a food pantry location have been defined. Additionally, the plan includes the creation of an open air plaza which will be located in the space between the church and the new parish center. Our engineer has moved forward with the site work and water drainage design that is required as part of the subdivision approval.
  4. Approval from the Archdiocese of Newark
    The sale of the property and initiation of a capital campaign to construct the Parish Center require obtaining the approval from the Archdiocese of Newark. There are numerous steps involved with this process. We’ve presented the information of the potential sale of the property, the proposed parish center, cashflow projections, and the details and tentative timeline for a parish capital campaign to the requisite archdiocesan boards and officials. This approval has been obtained subject to a perfunctory approval needed from the Vatican that is currently in process.

Please know that from the onset of the campus redevelopment project, we have actively engaged and collaborated with local and archdiocesan officials to ensure due diligence and responsible and realistic planning. I can say confidently that we have explored all reasonable and available options for achieving our goals (listed above). Given the scope of this project and its lasting impact, it is incumbent on me to discern and develop, with the assistance of committed and skillful parish lay leaders, a vision for the parish that not only meets our present needs but also sets a trajectory for the successful future state of our parish. We are nearly at the point where we can more clearly convey and share that vision at a scheduled Parish Town Hall meeting. My goal is to schedule two Town Hall meetings (a weekday evening and a Sunday afternoon) that will also be a time to answer questions about the proposed vision for our St. James community going forward. I expect to announce the dates of the two Town Hall meetings in the coming weeks.

Friends, a lot of work has been done, and still more is expected. It has been and will continue to be a privileged labor-of-love for me and all the lay leaders who have been involved in this project. Thank you for your confidence and thank you for your support, but most especially, thank you for your continued prayers!

Let us pray.
Dear Lord, since every perfect gift must come from You,
I pray, give skill to our hands,
clear vision to our minds,
kindness and meekness to our heart.
Give us singleness of purpose,
wisdom to courageously lead this parish community,
and a true realization of the privilege that is ours.
Give us the simple faith of a child,
so that we may rely on YOU.