Meetings were held in Ascension Hall on June 6th and 12th at 5 PM to update the parishioners on the recent fire and subsequent actions being taken to rebuild St Joseph Catholic Church. Parishioners were encouraged to ask questions
After an opening prayer by Fr. Reggie, opening comments were organized around the Building Committee’s three step approach to Stabilize, Assess and Path Forward.
Step 1 - Stabilize
- A special thanks was made to the first responders and their dedication to helping stop the spread of the fire and to protecting our other buildings. Through God’s grace no injuries were reported. The Diocese was also recognized for their immediate and ongoing unwavering support of our recovery efforts and especially the Bishop for presiding over the immediate Sunday masses.
- Thanks to the support from the Diocese and our insurance provider, Catholic Mutual, the parish offices were treated, and power was restored in 24 hours.
- Immediate actions were taken to modify Ascension Hall to accommodate weekend Masses in the absence of a permanent sanctuary.
- It was officially reported that the cause of the fire was accidental and that there were no indications of break-in, arson or foul play.
- A building committee was established to meet with the Diocese, evaluate options and advise Fr. Reggie on possible follow up courses of action. The committee will meet every other week with the Diocese to communicate activities and take the steps necessary to rebuild St Joseph Catholic Church.
Step 2 – Assessment
- The Diocese conducted several onsite evaluations immediately following the fire and determined that no part of the remaining structure could be salvaged. Subsequently, precautionary material testing and mitigation steps were taken so that the site could be secured and cleared. The disturbed earth will be stabilized with rock.
- The committee reported that it had established an excellent rapport with Catholic Mutual and was pleased to announce that the Church was insured for replacement costs and costs associated with temporary accommodations. However, it was communicated that a gap was still likely and rebuilding fundraising will need to take place to fill the gap.
- The committee recognized that Ascension Hall is currently undersized for typical masses. Options for an appropriately sized interim solution are being evaluated. The most viable options include moving in a modular temporary facility or making additional modification to Ascension Hall to accommodate a larger attendance. Consensus is that enlarging the hall is the preferred option.
- Current church finances were reported as good but limited. It was recognized that while a permanent church is built, some parishioners may go to other Catholic facilities however everyone was encouraged to continue to give.
- Special thanks to the Bishop for communicating to all parishes in the valley that should they receive St Joseph envelopes from visiting parishioners in their plate collections that they forward the funds back to St Joseph Church.
Step 3 – Path Forward
- In addition to a building committee, Fr. Reggie authorized the assembly of an advisory council made up of a representative of all 23 active ministries and select interested individuals to meeting every 4-6 weeks with the building committee to establish active dialogue to communicate ongoing concerns, needs and activities. The advisory council representatives will communicate to their ministries the outcomes from those meetings. Additionally, the bulletin and website will contain updates and a 30-day look-ahead.
- After lengthy considerations it has been determined that a new church will be constructed in approximately the same location and have approximately the same seating capacity. The new church will likely be of a more traditional crucifix design and incorporate modern efficiencies and technologies.
- A shortlist of three local architectural firms were developed by the Diocese and individual interviews were conducted buy the building committee on Tuesday, June 11. All firms had significant experience with catholic church design and the Phoenix Diocese and have the certifications necessary to expedite the permitting process.
- A qualified firm was selected and is in negotiations with the Diocese with the intent of starting immediately to evaluate our current temporary needs, confirm a master plan for the entire campus, and begin design work on a new church.
- An ambitious tentative schedule was presented that establishes a target construction start in January 2020 and December 2020 completion.
- It was emphasized and re-emphasized that this is only achievable if we act decisively and make quick decisions. Therefore, it is the intention of the committee and advisory council to work closely with all stakeholders to relate the desires of our parishioners, evaluate options and communicate activities in a timely manner.
- Fr Reggie noted that he has been moved with the number of people who have offered to donate to the new church. He asked that any donors please contact Michelle Carmichael in the parish office who will notify a volunteer coordinator who will recognize your offer of donation and stay in contact with you during the rebuilding process.
Finally, patience and prayers were asked from everyone as the team works through this unprecedented circumstance and rebuilding process. The parish staff had a full-time job before this tragedy and now has added workload that they are attempting to accommodate with the same level of promptness and professionalism they always demonstrated.
The update meetings were concluded with a wonderful prayer from Fr. Reggie.