Newsletter, May 14, 2021
An Invitation from Father Jim Ronan
Dear Friends in Christ,
For over 150 years, the Charlestown Catholic community has been a pillar of faith, hope, and charity. Our forebears strove to create a vibrant faith community with a solid moral foundation and a firm commitment to serving others.
Our beautiful church building, a sacred space to so many over the years, has been a place for us to gather in prayer through generations. It has served and continues to serve us well in our obligation to preach the Gospel to all who seek to love, know, and follow our Lord Jesus Christ. Over the past two years, we have worked diligently to enhance our facilities and maintain this historic worship site.
In the fall of 2018, we undertook the first phase of a major capital campaign. Over 125 families contributed more than $600,000 to this effort, which allowed us to hire a liturgical restoration consultant and perform a long-overdue cleaning and painting of the church. Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, we had intended to raise an additional $300,000 to complete the restoration work in the church and address other priorities. Naturally, we paused our fundraising plans – but the opportunity to complete the restorative work while the scaffolding was up and the church was closed was too good to pass up. The Finance Council was unanimous in its decision to borrow funds so we could complete most of the restoration last summer.
I hope you have had the chance to see the marvelous art and statue detail and how it complements the new paint and marble. In addition to being beautiful, this restoration will allow us to preserve these beautiful works of art.
We did not, however, have enough funds to reconfigure the front entry way and install the statues of St. Catherine of Siena and Our Lady as we had hoped. Nor could we replace the carpeting in the sanctuary or restore the front doors.
Our task now, is to complete these last few projects and pay back the loan. I invite you now to learn more about what we have accomplished and help us to complete this restoration in a fiscally responsible way.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
With Thanks to God
Formed in 2006 from two historic Charlestown parishes, St. Mary – St. Catherine of Siena is representative
of the diverse and inclusive neighborhood of Charlestown. St. Mary’s Parish was founded in 1828 as the
first parish in Boston to be established separate from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. The current church
was constructed in 1887.
We have worked hard at being good stewards of this historic church. In the past decade we have built a
preschool, chapel, hall, kitchen and bathrooms, added air conditioning, restored the organ, installed a new
bell system, and entirely remodeled the sacristy. Most of this was made possible through the generosity of
parishioners and property sales.
The many ministries and programs at our Parish are a testament to the nature of our spiritual home. We
are committed to our mission of welcoming and serving as we grow in our community of faith. Today, with
500 active members, St. Mary – St. Catherine of Siena is a vibrant parish and remains a pillar of history and
faith within our community. We are blessed with faith-filled parishioners, impactful ministries, and
beautiful buildings, and we are tasked with being good stewards of these gifts that have been passed down
to us by previous generations.
Our Restoration Project
With the completion of our efficiency and lighting upgrades in 2017, visible cracks in the paint and artwork became much more obvious. The repainting of the church was completed last summer. The painting portion of the project
was funded through the Inspiring Hope Campaign’s first phase. While the scaffolding for the repainting was in place, it behooved us to complete certain other restoration work.
This phase of the restoration project focused on the intricate details of our church’s art and architecture, which included cleaning and repairing the handcarved, softwood angels that decorate our hammerbeam ceiling and cleaning the Stations of the Cross sculptures that are so prominent in our church. This meticulous work cost $200,000, which we borrowed in the summer of 2020 while the scaffolding was still up and the church was being lightly used.
Our Restored Church
On June 19th, Seán Cardinal O’Malley will preside over the dedication of our restored interior. Many parishioners will see the completed work for the first time at that Mass. Perhaps others will attend a Mass or join a reception in the church to see it firsthand before then. Some examples of the beautiful restoration work include:
The Work that Remains
Because we prioritized projects that could only be done while the expensive scaffolding was already in place, there remain long-overdue restoration projects that we had to postpone. To truly complete the interior restoration and complement the beautiful new colors throughout the naïve and sanctuary, we would like to finally replace the old, wellworn carpeting in the sanctuary. Additionally, we have long planned to install a statue of St. Catherine of Siena and an accompanying statue of Our Lady in the front vestibule and to restore the marvelous wood doors in the entrance to their original glory.
These restoration projects, combined with the repayment of the existing loan, will require an additional $300,000 – $350,000. We are confident we can raise this amount by inviting the many new parishioners who have joined since our 2018 campaign to consider giving in addition to asking those who have already participated if they’d be interested in extending their pledges.
By seeking new philanthropic support to fund these additional projects and pay down our loan obligation, we will be continuing our tradition of fiscal responsibility at St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Parish and honoring the legacy of those that came before us who thoughtfully avoided passing debt obligations onto future generations. We intend to
follow their example!
How You Can Help
The projects outlined present an opportunity for everyone to become involved in a way that is appropriate for them. In order to be successful, this effort will require the contributions of many, not just a few. We recognize that it is our responsibility to equip current and future generations of St. Mary – St. Catherine of Siena parishioners to enjoy the same benefits from our facilities just as we have done.
With creative and bold thinking, generosity of resources, and a willingness to listen and respond to the Holy Spirit, we can all act in good stewardship to sustain the beauty of this the gift we have been for generations to come.
Methods of Giving
To be successful, St. Mary-St. Catherine needs support at all levels. Since we are all of different means and have unique needs, We are encouraging every family to consider making a gift that is within their own means. We suggest pledges that are of equal sacrifice – not equal amounts. When considering your own level of support, please review the tables of example pledges needed to reach our goal and what they would look like broken out over a period of five years.
Gifts can be accepted in a variety of forms, with an emphasis on those that can be used immediately. All gifts are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.
Pledges payable over three- to- five years allow donors to consider more substantial commitments than are possible with one-time gifts. Donors who pledge may determine payment schedules to meet their own charitable or tax needs. Payments can be made by check, credit card, electronic fund transfer, stock transfer, or by recommendations to Donor Advised Funds.
Remembering St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Parish in your will is the most common form of planned giving. Allocating a percentage of your estate would be a generous way to honor the parish and could also reduce your estate taxes. Please contact Lisa Lipsett, Esq., Executive Director of the Catholic Community Fund, for more information at (617) 746-5693 or Lisa_Lipsett@rcab.org.
If your company has a matching gift program, you may be able to enhance the impact of your gift by requesting a matching gift from your employer and including it with your pledge form.
Gifts of stock to Inspiring Hope can be a source of significant tax benefit to the donor by eliminating capital gains taxes. Any gift of stock will be sold as soon as it is received, and the value of the gift will be determined at the time of transfer. Please contact Tom Larner, Stock Transfer Coordinator, for instructions at (617) 746-5884 or TLarner@rcab.org.
If you are over the age of 70 ½ and have an IRA, you may be interested in donating directly from your retirement assets. By making a gift from your IRA to Inspiring Hope, you can exclude that amount from your annual income, thereby reducing your taxable income and satisfying your minimum required distribution for that year. Any gift of IRA assets must be transferred directly from your IRA brokerage account to the campaign.
“Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”