Our campus of Saint John the Evangelist Catholic Church is a treasure to both our Parish Family and to the community of Naples. From one of the few 24-hour accessible Adoration Chapels, to the Memorial and Prayer Gardens, to our spacious Ballroom, to of course our beautiful Sanctuary, every inch enriches and enlivens the engagement of the Catholic faith. We all have a responsibility to make sure it continues to be a beacon of healing and joy, so I wanted to provide some details we can all be on the lookout for, and explain some of the policies we have for our campus:
- Memorial Garden Remembrances: We are so blessed to have the Memorial Garden as a permanent location to honor and remember those that have gone before us. There are only 13% of spots remaining, and it is powerful to see the solace it brings people who visit on a daily basis. There has been a persistent question, however, about leaving permanent items. Unfortunately, we cannot ensure any items left on the markers will be retained for any period of time. There are several reasons for this, including the constant maintenance that requires hardware (like a special mower) that can damage those types of items. If you do leave any items on the markers, they may be picked up at various times, even by someone not affiliated with the church or our maintenance. We will endeavor to keep as many items as we find, in case you want to retrieve them, but we cannot be held responsible if an item is lost. We have planted several types of flowering plants in the Garden as a living memorial and their flowers can be placed on the markers. I hope you will take advantage of that option for your loved ones.
- Posters and Flyers: Father John and I have clearly stated on several occasions that communication is essential for our Parish Family to engage in the activities and programs of our church in a loving and collaborative way. We are responsible to ensure all communication provides the focus and mission of St. John. You may have noticed, especially if you visit other churches, that we do not place posters all over the walls of our church, or have a tremendous amount of flyers littering the entrances. The church (and the rest of the campus) should concentrate on the Mass and the programs of the Parish Family, and there can be a situation of “overload” when there are too many items competing for your attention. In order to ensure St. John is a welcoming and focused place of faith, no flyers or posters should be placed on our campus without discussion with Father John and myself. First off, sometimes people posting flyers may actually damage our facilities with their tape or staples. If a poster is accepted, we can place it with the proper mechanisms so it does not cause issues for our facilities. Secondarily, we are respectful to all members of our Parish Family and will ensure material conforms to parish and Diocesan requirements for content.
- Rental of Our Facilities: A few days after I started in my position as General Manager, I took a look at the events and activities that were scheduled within our facilities. At the time, it was close to 4,200 events annually. A vast amount of those activities were amazing illustrations of our faith and community at work, from Faith and Wine to Al-Anon, from Faith Formation to the Naples Council of World Affairs. However, many of them had nothing to do with our Mission and those people using our buildings were not even part of our Parish Family. At that point, I made the decision to only rent our facilities to businesses, non-profits, and Parish Family members. What was the result? We now have over 4,800 events annually and every single one of those are parish and community focused. There has been less damage and loss on our campus than ever before. For the most part, people are treating our buildings and grounds with respect and we are able to focus more on the programs than “keeping the lights on”. If anyone does mistreat our facilities when they are renting them, they will be barred from any future rental opportunity, and damages will be paid through the forfeiture of their deposit.
Several people have asked about some of the upcoming renovation projects we are planning for the campus, to include new doors and updates for the Church, our Parish Activity Center, and the Claussen Center. I am looking forward to these projects as much as the Life Center construction and I hope you will see and appreciate the progress we continue to make for our Parish Family.