This past week gave us the opportunity to look back a year ago at the devastation reeked on St. John by Hurricane Irma. It has been a trying year to be sure, but it has provided a unique opportunity to reshape our campus to fit the mission of our Parish Family: To Know, To Love and To Serve God in His Church and Our Community. From redesigning our worship space, to increasing parking spots and locations, the storm may have been a blessing in a very big, messy disguise.
I want to thank all the ministries and individuals who continue to flex and support our Parish Family through all these challenges. I know many are looking forward to our new environment and the possibilities of new and renewed programs. I appreciate everyone’s patience, especially as we move into the Fall, which will bring even more excitement and opportunities for needed service to the community. As part of the new infrastructure to enhance the ease for ourselves and any visitors we may have, new graphics have been created for all our buildings and our campus. You can find them on our website if you would like to take a look at all of them.
So, let’s dive in! Welcome to our new worship space, the Sanctuary plan for our beloved Church. Our Buildings and Grounds Council, in concert with our Arts and Liturgical Environment Ministry have been hard at work evaluating several options to renew and invigorate a prayerful and majestic Liturgical space that will speak to the soul of St. John and our community. We have been working with a highly respected Liturgical Architect from the Diocese, and the Bishop has approved our final plan just last week. Thanks to the dedication of these Parish Family members, we now have a final plan for the church. As you can see, the Italian marble altar space will flow throughout the Sanctuary, with accents and even a permanent Baptismal Font at the front of the church. Our warm cherry pews will now extend to every seating area of the church, which will increase our seating capacity by over 150 places. These pews include special areas in which the seats will fold down, allowing Parish Family members in wheelchairs to sit directly with their loved ones within the pews without exiting their chairs. There are so many powerfully faithful components of our new church that we want to illustrate. Stay tuned for those detailed discussions coming soon.
Claussen Family Center
We have been working tirelessly to return one of our buildings to service, the Claussen Family Center. This building had been primarily focused on Faith Formation, Ministry Support, and external support groups. At this time, as we are still not fully complete, we are blessed to have made enough progress to begin Faith Formation on time with the facility as a Mission Essential Function of the Parish. We hope to allow internal programs to begin soon, but we must wait for the full completion of the building before allowing other activities to begin. It has a refreshed look, with new flooring, painting and new rooms for various activities. What was once called the Seminar Room is now Alexandria, following our Cities of the New Testament naming convention. The reason we chose that name is due to the brand-new Library that has been built out of the old Youth Room. This Library will be stocked with books and electronic media to allow for youth and adults to study our faith and have tutoring sessions. The unique furniture that will be installed soon allows for small group discussions as well as medium-sized classes, with teleconferencing and virtual classroom functionality as well. You will notice in Alexandria that the kitchenette has been removed as all food service should be contained within the Life Center going forward. This will assist us with ensuring a safe environment in the Claussen Center for anyone suffering with allergies.
We are coming closer and closer to our new Pulte Family Life Center’s soft open. Flooring is starting to go down and lighting has been installed. As soon as the County allows us to fully permit and occupy the building, we will be opening up the 5 Saints and the whole building up to Catholic Adult Organization and Catholic Youth Organization activities. Additionally, we will be creating our “overflow” Mass environment within the gym to ensure we have seating capacity needed as our seasonal Parish Family members join us. More details on this special capability will be forthcoming as the schedule is finalized.
Exterior and Parking
Many of you have already witnessed our new lighting systems for the exterior of our campus, which have made it significantly safer in the evenings and early mornings. We are still finalizing our setup, with additional landscaping and safety components, including concrete bollards around the light poles to ensure no one accidentally hits the lights, and exterior cameras to enhance our safety.
It must be the best kept secret here at St. John that we have many spots that are available just a few feet away from where people feel it necessary to park on the roadway or in fire lanes. We will be attempting to showcase our Back Lot (along with our Front and Central Lots) as we move Faith Formation parking and Life Center overflow Mass parking to that newly redesigned and structured lot. Thanks to the Knights of Columbus, we will have parking assistance starting this coming weekend for the 9 and 11 AM Masses (and Faith Formation on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings) to help drivers find their way to the Back Lot. Golf carts have been ordered for those needing assistance in getting from the various parking options to Mass.
Security and Safety
This opportunity to enhance our entire campus at once was the perfect time to implement the multiple layers of safety we need to ensure we can keep an open and welcoming campus that at the same time provides for safe and secure activities for youth and adults alike. You will notice our new Access Control System has been implemented everywhere our new doors have been installed, specifically the Life Center, the Ballroom, and the Claussen Center. The rest of the Parish Activity Center and the Church are all slated for these new doors in the coming months. All members of the Parish Family and anyone that becomes part of our CYO and CAO activities will be provided a fob (or some other device) that will allow for access into our spaces based on the individual’s role in Ministries, programs, or other reasons. For example, the doors are set to automatically be open prior to the start of Faith Formation, but once the program starts, individuals that are authorized to access the building will need to use their fob to enter the Claussen Center. This program will roll out over the next several months so that we can ensure the proper education and deployment of this safety program is successful.
This is just a small snippet of what we have been accomplishing for our Parish Family and I hope you will enjoy our campus as it expands to become a new model of Catholic Community for the Naples area, and draws more people to our faith based on joy, love, mercy, and respect.