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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Facility Stewardship

One of the aspects of stewardship which is often discussed is our responsibility to maintain and protect the resources we have been given, by God, for the work of the Church.

As a paid staff member, I have a duty to my job, as well as the normal responsibilities of a parishioner, when it comes to managing and utilizing the resources or our spiritual home. Members of the ministerial staff – both ordained and lay, paid and volunteer – work to be accountable and responsible to the best interests of our parish. In every action, we are called to balance the immediate needs of individuals with the long-term needs of the parish at large. That is true of how we manage the finances of the parish, as well as the physical resources we are blessed with.

It is obvious to every visitor to St. Joan of Arc that we have a beautiful facility which allows us to do things many churches can only dream of doing, right here on our campus. With that blessing, though, comes responsibility: maintenance, cleaning, and scheduling. And with the execution of those responsibilities comes the opportunity for others to either participate in the stewardship of the parish, or to actively oppose it.

How do the individual members of the parish participate in the stewardship of our facility? We are called to a share of stewardship by utilizing the facility in a responsible manner. This includes the following:
using rooms or areas for activities consistent with the mission of the church;
using rooms/areas for activities that fit well in the area being used;
taking care to not damage the building, including furniture, walls, etc.;
leaving the area clean and cared for;
reporting problems to the parish staff so repairs can be made or problems addressed;
respecting those using other parts of the facility by keeping noise level down, not interrupting other meetings, and using only the space needed;
recognizing the need to schedule rooms, and to only use rooms for activities that are on the parish schedule;
use the facility in a way to minimize costs.

The first few of these require a little thought, but aren't that difficult to accomplish. Obviously, the parish facility should only be used for things that are consistent with Catholic teaching. We have an active parish with many ministries utilizing the space available and it is only practical that ministries of the church have first priority to the spaces and it is a practical thing for the leadership of various ministries to only utilize the space that is actually needed for that ministry, based on the number of people involved and the type of activity. As we all use the facility, we should take great care to maintain it to the best of our ability, making sure we don't cause any damage, cleaning up messes when they occur, and reporting maintenance problems promptly.

The final three of these take a bit more resolve. All three of these can be addressed through the application of a generous dose of Christian Charity.

We are a big parish with many activities planned. When we are using the building, it is easy to forget that other ministries and groups may be using it at the same time. Often, in our exuberance, we forget ourselves and accidentally interrupt another meeting or make it more difficult for someone else to accomplish their ministry. There are two ways to address this. First, by being aware of the other activities going on around us in the parish. Second, by actively reminding ourselves that while our event or ministry is important to the health of the parish and the spread of the Gospel, all around us other equally important activities are taking place.

Because we are so active, it is important that we utilize our space in the most efficient way possible. Even though we have more space to use than ever before, it is still limited space. The need to utilize the Parish Schedule is paramount to a smooth operation of ministries. Stacey Jones is the staff member responsible for scheduling the facility, and all activities should be funneled through her office. She will work with ministries or individuals to make sure the room being used is the best fit for the event, that no one else is already scheduled to use the room, and that all legal issues are covered in preparation for the event. Failure to properly schedule an event can lead to conflicts between ministries, using parish space in an inefficient manner, increased inefficiency in housekeeping duties, and – in some cases – even putting the parish in legal jeopardy. Again, none of these are intended consequences, but are the reality of our need to properly schedule the facility. Please remember this when planning an event: an event, ministry, fund raiser, or meeting cannot be held here in our building if it is not on the official parish schedule at least one week prior to the event.

Finally, we should all use the building in a way to minimize our financial costs. This includes little things like only using the automatic doors if you have a legitimate need to and big things like taking care to not damage church property. Everyone should be aware of things like not leaving outside doors propped open, turning off lights not in use, not using the elevators unless needed for a physical reason or to move large quantities of materials between rooms, walking on the paved areas whenever possible outside, and supervising children at all times. When we fail to do these things, we increase our use of energy resources, increase our housekeeping and maintenance costs, and shorten the longevity of our material possessions.

If each of us will take the time to consider these points as we go about our normal routine at the church, we will be able to further the cause of stewardship while protecting and maintaining our beautiful facility.


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