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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Walsh Building future

Lay Mission Capo di Tutti Capi Sam Stanton sent out an announcement last Thursday regarding the Walsh Building, according to Anonymous Source #3, Therefore, without further ado (although this may start a whole new to-do, here's what I heard:

According to two other reliable sources, the Walsh building is scheduled to become the new offices for the Maryknoll Lay Missioners. In exchange, we will receive—by default—the Bethany building.

Since the Walsh building will only be used for office space, no major renovations are needed to bring it up to code if, as had been conjectured, it were to be used as a residence for retreatants, seminarians or disgruntled younger guys who are increasingly outnumbered by erstwhile rusticating retirees.

This raises several intriguing questions. If we again have Bethany, what will we do with it? I have no inside info, but let me once again raise the possibility of the disgruntled younger guys (and, believe it or not, at 62 I am still among the ten youngest guys here at the Center) moving to someplace where no one gets upset if someone moves their cheese. A kind of Maryknollers-In-Exile, as it were.

But a more interesting question is, without Bethany, where will the lay missioners train? Again, no inside info, but it seems the lay missioners will need some place very close with a lot of vacant rooms in it. Maybe a large dining area. Laundry room. A chapel even. Hmmm... (I wonder how they feel about the ambo?)

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And here for your further enlightenment is the text of Maryknoll Lay Missioner Sam Stanton's letter:

Update on Facilities Study


Dear Maryknoll Lay Mission community:

Almost a year ago, after more than a year of weathering the effects of the global economic crisis, the MKLM Board of Directors in light of their fiduciary responsibilities identified the necessity to review the feasibility of MKLM as an organization sustaining a structure and property like Bethany. This building, dear to the hearts of missioners, staff and Returned Missioners and “home” to many a missioner when they returned to the states, was rapidly draining us of our resources. Plans to do needed renovations to Bethany became less and less feasible as the economic crisis continued on. Resources and capital were being put into repairs and maintenance, while at the same time the Association faced large cut backs overseas and in the states, and limitations on the number of missioners we could bring into the organization. We were challenged to put our priorities in order and clarify our goals; If mission is our priority and putting more Maryknollers in the field our goal, we needed to resolve the issue of the Bethany financial drain.

Bethany is an old building that has needed significant upkeep and renovation for many years. Plumbing, roofing, many other infrastructure issues have long been in decline, and in some cases neglected for too long. These issues began steadily draining resources.

In addition, our first mortgage payment to the Society for the building was due in 2009, just at the time of the US and global economy collapse. We had to ask for, and we received, a deferment on beginning our mortgage payments.

In late 2009 the Board of Directors asked for a feasibility study and gave me the responsibility of investigating alternatives. We first went to the Society and Congregation to explain our situation and the investigation we were initiating. We received support and understanding from both leadership teams and both expressed support and a desire to help in any way they could. Both entities said they would investigate the possibility of housing candidates in their centers if that would help. From the beginning of the conversation the Society raised the possibility of MKLM renting the Walsh Building as our center. If we reached an agreement, the Bethany property would revert back to the Society and the mortgage forgiven.

Since then we have continued negotiations and have looked at all factors and how our different needs would be met if we did not have the services that Bethany provides. These needs include center of operations, office space, housing of candidates and missioners during orientation and other programs, housing for missioners when coming through, space for meetings and retreats, meals and catering, etc.

Over the past several months we have studied each aspect of our needs and what needs the Walsh Building would fulfill, as well as how other needs might be met, especially some of our formation needs and housing during orientation and other programs.

In the month of October and now into November negotiations have advanced. With the cooperation of the Society leadership and their staff we are nearing a probable agreement on rental of the Walsh Building. As well, we are in discussion with both the Society and Congregation regarding room and board options for candidates as well as other program requirements including, formation space and chapel availability. . Some programs would require space off the Maryknoll campus. We continue to search for innovative ways to see how we fulfill those needs.

In summary, negotiations are proceeding and we hope to reach an agreement by the end of the year or shortly thereafter. We will keep you abreast. On Tuesday, December 14 we will have a staff communications meeting at Bethany. Staff members will be able to present questions concerning the facility. We will write up the minutes of this meeting and post them on the following Monday Bulletin for all missioners and board members to see. It is important to note that even though an agreement is reached, the move will not take place most likely until late summer. The Society has agreed to do a number of renovations that are needed in the Walsh Building, as well as a general cleaning, painting, laying new carpet, etc.

I am the first one to recognize that this change means a huge cultural shift for the Maryknoll community. My family and I have deep emotional ties to Bethany. Bethany has truly been home when serving in the states or coming to the states in the different periods we served in Chile over the twenty five years we have been a part of Maryknoll. However, such as our beautiful cathedrals are not the Church, rather the people of God, mission is not Bethany. It is the walk with, the exchange with and the service we offer the people. It is about building bridges of understanding in a broken world and it is about working for justice and building the “kindom” of God. If that is truly our focus, then our cathedrals and “Bethanys” are put into perspective. We can move on.
As I close I want to say how accompanied and supported we have felt in this process by our brothers and sisters in the leadership of the Society and Congregation. Although we are three separate organizations, we are truly a mission family called Maryknoll. That kinship that is the basis of the gospel is the spirit that will carry us through this transition and will guide all of us to work together for the future of mission and for the role that Maryknoll should and can play in the years to come.

In Our Lady of Maryknoll,

Sam

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