To the editor:
I have often heard the saying "You cannot know where you are going in life unless you know where you have been!" This statement resounds ever true in the current battle to keep St. Mary's Convent from being torn down. As an ELCA Lutheran, some might question why I am giving my opinion on a Catholic convent that is being scheduled for demolition this year. I believe that my voice is just as important as anyone's voice, because the St. Mary's Convent is an historical building within our community.
As I understand the current situation, St. Mary's pastor, Monsignor Eugene Lozinski has given the approval to demolish St. Mary's Convent this year and begin new construction an addition attached to the north side of the church, which will include an elevator, gathering area and a chapel for adoration as well as laying a new parking lot.
But while Monsignor Lozinski has a vision for a new facility and more space for cars, a group of parishioners and Sleepy Eye locals have come together to try and persuade Monsignor Lozinski to reconsider this irreversible action. Namely, this group has offered to sign a contract with the parish whereby they would lease the St. Mary's Convent for the next 25 years. The group who made this offer also agreed to pay the utilities, all maintenance costs, will put a new roof on the building, and will tuck point the brick and mortar where necessary.
As a historian of Sleepy Eye and great admirer of our community, I was so proud to know that a group of citizens made such a generous offer to St. Mary's Church. In fact, when I brought this up to a prominent consultant for the Minnesota Historical Society, they could not believe that these people would make such a remarkable proposition. Incidentally, I am currently helping to restore the Berg Hotel which will start this year or early in 2014. It is not easy to find financing to help cover the costs of such a restoration.
In the case of St. Mary's Convent, the parish would have to spend thousands of dollars to demolish and clear the site and then thousands of more dollars to build a new facility. Why on earth would the parish make this decision, if a they can save a part of our community's history and allow a group of parishioners and citizens to help bear the cost of this landmark site. It seems so pointless to let a beautiful building which can be restored to its original vigor to go by the way side and be erased from our community's landscape.
My great grandfather, Peter Geschwind came to America in 1872 and migrated to this community 140 years ago. As a member of this community and a Roman Catholic, he would have assisted in building St. Mary's Convent. My grandfather and many of your ancestors helped build this building and many more historical places in our community. We must not forget the past and we must not compromise classical structures for the next parking lot. It seems like the decision to get rid of St. Mary's Convent is too convenient for a few and outrageous to many given the generous offer on the table to provide for future needs.
If this building is demolished a part of Sleepy Eye will go with it!How sad this would be!I have stated my opinion.I stand on it!
Judy Geschwind Beech