October 31, 2013
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Repairs, renovations underway at Rochester Hills parish

St. Irenaeus Rochester Hills

Wood siding and beams on the church exterior have been restored at St. Irenaeus. “It looks brand new,” said Father Chabala. The church boiler installed in 1967 was recently replaced with a new, high-energy furnace. “It should save us a ton of money in the years ahead,” added Father Chabala. Photo courtesy of St. Irenaeus

Priorities determined by the pastor and lay leaders at St. Irenaeus Parish in Rochester Hills are now being fulfilled through a Changing Lives Together campaign that started eight months ago. In recent weeks, parishioners have witnessed repairs to the exterior of their 32 year-old church building while a new energy-efficient boiler is providing interior comfort. Nearly 600 parish households have pledged more than $1.1 million to fulfill those and future projects, surpassing the $900,000 parish campaign goal. “We had a clear case, terrific leadership, and pledged transparency in our efforts,” said Rev. Brian Chabala, pastor of St. Irenaeus since July 2011.

Rev. Brian Chabala

Rev. Brian Chabala, pastor of St. Irenaeus in Rochester Hills. Photo courtesy of St. Irenaeus

“I was a bit uneasy going into the campaign,” recalled Father Chabala. “Many of our parishioners are still dealing with fallout from the bad economy, and others had concerns about launching a big fundraising campaign at this time,” he continued. “We decided our best shot would be to start the campaign in the early spring this year, to be precise about the parish needs, and to be accountable for the results. Things worked out pretty well,” said Father Chabala.

Pledge proceeds have enabled replacing the original church boiler in time for winter, with wood repairs, painting, and staining sprucing up the outside of the church. “I’m so pleased that our people are seeing and feeling the results of their generosity,” said Father Chabala. “We had a great cross section of parishioners involved in the campaign – veterans who have been with us since the parish founding, younger families, and some whose first experience volunteering for the parish was through Changing Lives Together. Our lay leaders are energetic and positive about what we want to accomplish, and that attitude has become contagious.”

St. Irenaeus CLT

The Changing Lives Together leadership team at St. Irenaeus. Led by co-chairs Tom Kenny and Larry Gatt, volunteers included long time parishioners and others who had not previously been involved in parish projects. Photo courtesy of St. Irenaeus

Additional projects in the works include renovating and expanding the church gathering space, adding a baptismal font, and constructing a covered drive-up to the church entrance, which will shelter handicapped parishioners as well as those attending weddings, funerals, and other gatherings. “We haven’t done anything to the church vestibule since it was built decades ago,” said Father Chabala. “We’re working with architects to figure out what we can afford and we’ll start the work when more pledges are fulfilled next year.”

Before the campaign began, about ten parishioners volunteered to start a prayer team, which collected prayer intentions from fellow parishioners. “The intentions were written down, placed in a basket, presented with the offertory, and placed before the altar during Mass,” said Father Chabala. The parish prayer team will reconvene in the near future to resume soliciting and praying for the intentions of St. Irenaeus parishioners.

Updated October 30, 2013

 Changing Lives Together at
St. Irenaeus

Pastor: Rev. Brian Chabala
Parish founded: 1967
Registered households: 1,643
Campaign launch: March 2013
Goal: $900,000
Pledged: $1,164,778

Parish priorities:

  • Repair, refinish exterior wood
  • Replace church boiler
  • Replace church, rectory roofs
  • Update, expand church entry, gathering area
  • Expand parking lot
  • Strengthen outreach, catechetic, evangelization programs