To the editor:
I'm not sure the newspaper is a good place to debate parish matters, but that seems to have occurred. I consider Judy Beech a friend, and she has done wonderful service for Sleepy Eye in many ways. But I disagree with her letter concerning the convent at St. Mary's.
First of all, this is not a decision by Monsignor Lozinski. He is the spiritual leader of our parish and certainly involved in important decisions. He would not allow the demolition of the convent without support from parish leaders. The Administrative Council has voted several times to proceed with removing the convent as part of a larger project on the north side of the church. The first vote was three years ago. It has been the recommendation of the separate Building and Grounds Committee all along.
This has not been a hasty decision. The then-named Parish Council considered demolition of the convent 15 years ago. In reality, the more important "vote" was by two generations of parishioners who never have found any real use for the building after the sisters left.
I respect those who would preserve the convent. But many of us feel it is a matter of responsible allocation of resources. We do not have unlimited means at St. Mary's and choices have to be made.
I'm sure Judy would agree that our church is a city treasure, really a regional treasure. I'd invite any of you who have not been inside to visit. We hope you have a prayerful experience and feel the presence of our Lord there. But stay a bit longer, look around, and consider the tremendous responsibility it is to care for that today and for generations to come.
In Europe, the great cathedrals are maintained with government funding. In Sleepy Eye, the burden for maintaining that magnificent church falls fully on our parishioners. We willingly and gladly accept that charge.
On the other side of the convent is St. Mary's School. For 130 years, our parishioners have decided it was worth sacrificing to offer a quality, Catholic education to all who choose it. Tuition has gone up as we struggle to keep up with expenses. Still, tuition at Catholic schools in the metro area is six times what we pay at St. Mary's. We do not want St. Mary's to only be available to the wealthy, and our parish makes the choice to subsidize it.
I talk often to our staff, and they could find at least ten projects right now in the church and the school that are underfunded or unfunded. It is a constant balancing act to cover demands. And if someone would ever find an unused dollar lying around, it should go immediately toward teacher and staff salaries that all of us parishioners would like to see raised.
The Sisters of St. Francis served our Parish wonderfully for decades. Going forward, I think the greatest honor we can give them is to sustain the church and school they gave their lives to.