John Fuller’s letter to the editor published on November 13, 2019, misrepresents the history and current situation, and Fr. Anthony’s involvement, of the Capital Building Project, originally meant to raise funds for the construction of a gym for St. Catherine’s parish.
Twenty years ago a laity driven project was initiated with the goal to raise sufficient funds to build a gym. After two fundraising drives, the parish still lacked the necessary funds to complete this project. Additionally, a substantial grant was lost due to the lack of open bidding for construction, and a significant amount of money was spent by the project committee (not by the pastor or diocese as suggested by Fuller) on designs, permits, and on a consultant to produce a report on how to raise capital. If any fault is to be found, as Mr. Fuller alleges, it is more likely due to “Mr. Fuller’s” committee.
Fr. Anthony, the present pastor, was not at St. Catherine’s during any of these early machinations. The parish, over the course of twenty years, simply did not raise sufficient funds. Yet, Mr. Fuller, unfairly and maliciously, tosses around words like fraud, unilateral decisions, sabotage, and scheming directed at the church and even the Bishop. Mr. Fuller’s promise to “explore the history of the fundraising for this project” shows no indication of an honest appraisal of how this project was conceived, conducted, or concluded. At the parish meeting held by Fr. Anthony to openly and honestly discuss a resolution, Mr. Fuller monopolized the forum and when other attendees desired an opportunity to speak, Mr. Fuller outrageously and disrespectfully showed disregard for the church and its leaders, just as he is continuing to do in his letter.
It appears that Fr. Anthony wants to judiciously “live within” the budget of the parish. It is foolhardy to take on a huge loan for a project which does not appear to have sufficient parish financial support. It is wise and prudent to work on smaller projects aimed at structural improvements and deferred maintenance than take on debt. Fr. Anthony should be congratulated on his fiscal responsibility and his desire to maintain the beautiful church, school, and parish office it already owns.
St. Catherine’s and Fr. Anthony have offered to return the money to anyone who wants their donation to go only to the construction of this gym. Others, who willingly support the church and school, can transfer their donations to these other still worthy projects. So, rather than force St. Catherine’s, the parish, the Bishop and “questionable church leaders” into expensive, lengthly, vitriolic litigation, Mr. Fuller should accept the fact that this project, as originally conceived, is not viable.
We should all accept Mr. Fuller’s contrite apology that he “was not able to get this project done.” However, we can also rejoice that Mr. Fuller has the opportunity, as all other donors, to reclaim any donation that he actually made to St. Catherine’s for this project. His mean spirited discourse and allegations are divisive and not conducive to a reasonable resolution of this issue.
– Judith Martin