Indiana Parish Gets Grant to Repair Bell Tower and Serve Neighborhood
WASHINGTON, DC – An Indianapolis parish is up for a challenge grant from the National Fund for Sacred Places.
If St. Rita Parish, a predominantly black parish on the east side of town, can raise $300,000 on its own, it will receive $150,000 from the fund.
Part of the money will be used to repair the church tower. Sister Gail Trippett, a sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet who was the parish life coordinator when the grant application was submitted, said bricks were falling from the tower. Some bricks fell through the church and others fell into the parking lot, making it unsafe to use.
Saint Rita is one of 16 Christian churches to receive grants under the new funding round. Another winner is a Catholic parish: St. Francis of Assisi Parish in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Now in its seventh year, the National Sacred Places Fund has awarded or pledged more than $18 million to 97 community-serving congregations across the United States. It is the only initiative of its kind in the country.
The organization is a project of Partners for Sacred Places, which helps congregations and others with an interest in former religious properties make the most of them as civic assets serving the wider community.
trippett said Catholic Press Service in an Oct. 20 phone interview, she and a parishioner represented Saint Rita for a series of workshops that spanned a year. “It was a very intensive program, but it covered many aspects that help communities thrive instead of just survive,” she said.
Every two or three months, a different subject had to be analyzed in depth. An example was simply to “look at our buildings. What is our long-range plan to restore the mission of the congregation to a higher purpose? said Trippett.
“We had to come back to report on our congregation, our survey of people in the community,” she added. The survey asked respondents for parish views in terms of “what strengths do you highlight now, and where do you want to be in the future?” according to Trippet.
Part of the community outreach was “a listening session with partners in our neighborhood. We invited a lot,” she recalls, saying organizers asked attendees what they knew about St. Rita and the needs of the community. These conversations could lead to deeper partnerships between the parish and other community organizations, she said.
“We did a facility assessment and worked with the community to determine where we want to go. We also work with various committees, a ‘This is what we want to do, and this is who we want to partner with’ scenario,” said Trippett, who has since become the congregational religious director for her religious order, speaking with his novices.
Trippett and a parishioner who attended the series of workshops became a two-member grant-writing committee. They were joined soon after by another parishioner with a background in architecture and facility development.
The Sacred Places grant is just one of the grants they’ve won, but there was one requirement: “We had to ask the Archdiocese (of Indianapolis) for permission to do a fundraising campaign, and we had to do a feasibility study to justify it,” Trippett said CNS.
“We just learned that Indiana Landmark – has been a great partnership for us – we were able to get a planning grant from them, which is the feasibility study. We also applied for the Church Preservation Grant. black,” she added.
Along with other building reconstruction and community construction needs, Trippett expects the total bill to be around $1.1 million. But does the $300,000 game seem like a daunting number? The parish has raised funds before, she replied, “but not on such a large scale.”