January 6, 2013
Today, I am writing to you about an ongoing concern to all of us, namely, the enabling of the old and disabled to be a part of our religious community with the installation of an elevator. In this matter, we must ask ourselves two questions:
Is an elevator really necessary for our place of worship? What is the difference between an elevator and a lift? To answer the first question, we must examine our situation today. For many years, older and disabled members of our parish are constantly challenged to enter and exit our church by the long flight of stairs. The participation of these parishioners in our religious celebrations and fellowship is denied because of outdated man made structures. Everyone, regardless of age and physical condition, has the right to participate in the religious and social life of our parish.
Some parishioners may be of the opinion that we don’t really need an elevator because most of us are fit enough to climb the stairs and the exercise will do everyone some good. Remember, our society is aging. Look around you and tell me how many young parishioners do you see in our church? All of us are aging and in the future we will need some assistance to be in this church and celebrate Our Lord’s love together. The elevator is an investment in our spiritual future.
The elevator will also be able to accommodate the casket for our funeral Masses, alleviating the need to carry the casket up the steep flight of stairs into the church.
Secondly, there is the question of the difference between an “elevator” and a “lift”.
To operate a lift, you need a designated person assigned to the lift. This person must be available at all times with the key or code to activate the lift. The disabled person entering the lift must operate the lift by holding the up or down button throughout the trip. Otherwise the lift will stop in midway between floors and possibly cause the disabled passenger unnecessary stress because of the unexpected stop. An elevator solves this problem by having a simpler and more reassuring, hands free operating system.
Initially, our idea of enabling access for the disabled was practically directed towards a project to install a lift. We also knew that our church was designated a historical site which means that the Brantford Historical Board must approve all renovations to our church.
In 2008, we approached J.H. Cohoon with the proposition of making the necessary drawing for installing a lift for our church. The Heritage Board would only approve the installation of a lift between the stairs and the church wall facing the parking lot.
Next, despite the fact that our church was designated a heritage site we could not apply for any grants because then we would be obligated to give access to our parish hall to any fringe group operating contrary to Catholic teachings. This type of public access to our hall would interfere with our parish needs like funeral receptions or church events.
However, in 2008, our Federal Government issued a directive for all public institutions to enable easy access for the disabled. Grants were made available with certain conditions attached for projects dealing with easy access for the disabled. St. Joseph’s Parish in Brantford twice applied for such grants -once in 2009 and again in 2010. We were twice denied.
Finally, on the 4th of May 2012, with the assistance of our federal member of parliament Phil McColeman, we were given a grant of $44,500.00 towards our Elevator project on the condition that no work was underway.
Also, we presented the details of our Elevator Project to the Hamilton Diocese and the City of Brantford. On the 13th of December of this year we received their building permit. We expect the federal grant money shortly.
In retrospect, I would like to point out that the church renovations done in 2007 to 2008 took into account the installation of a lift and we even started the Lift Project fund-raiser.
However, the Hamilton Diocese insisted that we install an elevator instead of a lift for the same reasons as I have already stated- to eliminate the designated third person. Many of the churches in the Hamilton diocese have installed elevators instead of lifts. Even Christ The King Cathedral has switched a lift for an elevator before Easter of last year.
Nevertheless, the installation of an elevator in our 130 year old church is a sensitive subject with the Brantford Heritage board. In order to comply with the Heritage Boards request to maintain the historical look of our church, the firm of MMMC Incorp. Architects prepared three proposals for study by the City of Brantford. The actual proposal was chosen by the Heritage Board
The cost of the entire Elevator Project, which includes alterations to the existing structures like the stairs, entrance and church hallway, is $485,000.00. Since we do not have the cash to cover these costs, we arranged a loan from the diocese of Hamilton as advised by their business administrator.
We are all aware of the fact that our parishioners’ first obligation is to their family. But we should not forget about the needs of our parish especially with the start of such an important investment in our church.
How can we raise the money needed? The following are some suggestions:
1. Our parish consists of over 800 families. If possible, we encourage each family to consider a monthly donation of $ 25.00 using the Build-ing Fund envelopes, which would amount to an average of an additional $6.00 each Sunday. In this letter we included a donation envelope for the elevator project for Parishioners who do not use the Sunday offertory envelopes.
2. We encourage parishioners to make private donations and to designate the parish Building Fund in their estate wills. Many parishes are funded through private donations and by making the parish a benefactor in parishioners wills.
3. For a donation of $1000.00, a plaque in remembrance of a one dear departed relative will be mounted on the wall in the hall by the elevator.
4. In the event of funerals or requests for a Mass to commemorate the soul of a deceased relative, parishioners are encouraged to make their donations to the building fund. In appreciation to all the donors, a Mass will be celebrated every first Tuesday and Wednesday of the month.
5. The parish will continue to organize fundraisers like the Parish Dance and Parish Picnic.
6. Additional donation envelopes for the installation of the elevator are always available in the church entrance. For all donations, a receipt will be issued for tax purposes.
7. Any other fund-raising proposals either by persons or organizations to assist the parish in setting up the elevator to enable the disabled is welcome.
Finally, I would like to share with you the news that on the 19th of December, our architect from MMMC Incorporatron and representatives of the construction company Lanca finalized the schedule for the entire project. The work for the installation of the elevator and necessary renovations has already begun on January 3rd 2013.
One of the conditions of the government grant is to have the entire installation completed by March 30th 2013. However, we managed to get a one month extension on the deadline. So, we have no choice but to start building in the winter time.
After each Mass the architectural drawings of the elevator installation are available for viewing in the parish hall and I will be available to answer any questions. If there are any other serious inquiries regarding the Elevator Project, please contact me personally or make an appointment with our parish office.
An account of the progress and financial state of our elevator installation will be made available as it happens. We are convinced that with God’s blessing and help from people of good will; this project will be a success.
The period of Advent consists of four Sundays in preparation and waiting before the happy event of our Savior’s coming to redeem mankind. For the parishioners of St Joseph’s in Brantford, it has been five long years for the coming of the elevator installation. It’s a Christmas gift for our parish and you might say, “it is an elevator to heaven”.
I will give the last word on this important subject to our Bishop Douglas Crosby whose Christmas card read , “May 2013 be the year the elevator is completed! With all good wishes!” Signed Bishop Douglas Crosby.
Let us give thanks for this gift and let us rejoice in God’s benevolence.
Fr. Adam Wróblewicz CR
November 9, 2013
The Ceremonial Blessing of the New Elevator at St. Joseph’s Parish in Brantford.
According to historical records, there were thirty Polish families living in Brantford at the beginning of the 20th century. However, these Polish immigrants soon realized that a religious focal point was necessary in order to maintain their faith, traditions and culture of their homeland. Several years of hardships passed before their dream of a Polish parish came to fruition. The beginning of their religious community is taken to be the year 1936 with the purchase of St. Andrews Church located on Brant Street from a protestant denomination. On February 21, 1938 the renovated church was consecrated by Bishop Joseph Ryan of the Hamilton Diocese. The newly consecrated church was named St Joseph Roman Catholic Church. On October 15, 2011, by the grace of God, the Polish Parish of St Joseph celebrated its 75th jubilee.
All of us are aware of the fact that many generations put a great deal of unselfish effort into building a religious community capable of serving future generations of parishioners. As a result, St. Joseph’s Parish has become instrumental in preserving our faith and our Polish language as evident by the church’s rich artistic interior and by the active religious and cultural life within its proximity. All of the parishioners have a share in this legacy. In fact, the results of our ongoing involvement in the parish are evident not just in the church building itself but also the new elevator with its renovated entrance, sidewalk and a new parking lot with a wider entrance and exit.
All these alterations were necessary in order to facilitate the use of our church by our handicapped and elderly parishioners. No longer are these parishioners hindered from the full use of their church facilities. In addition, in the year 2009, the Federal government introduced legislation obliging all institutions accessed by the public to provide handicapped people full access to these buildings. Our church building is designated in this category of public buildings.
Consequently, any critical discussions as to the legitimacy of installing such an elevator next to our church building are unfounded. I am convinced that all of us at some point in our lives will be required to utilise this elevator. Despite the fact that we regard ourselves as able and without a thought of old age in our minds, one never knows when misfortune can incapacitate us physically. Then the elevator will truly become a necessary fact of life.
The installation of the elevator aside our church building should give us tremendous satisfaction and hope especially for the handicapped parishioners who now can fully partake in the liturgical life of the parish.
I heartily invite all parishioners to participate in the ceremony blessing our new elevator by the Bishop of Hamilton Diocese Douglas Crosby on Saturday November 9, 2013 at 5:00 pm. During the Eucharist, a group of young people will receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit through the Sacrament of Confirmation. The ceremony consecrating the elevator will take place after the Mass.
In conclusion, I would like to say God bless all the people of goodwill who, in some way committed themselves to the elevator’s realization and to those parishioners who are still contributing to its success.
Fr. Adam Wróblewicz CR
March 28, 2014
Together we are all building God’s Family and Parish Family under the patronage of St. Joseph. From the bottom of my heart, I would like to express my thankfulness towards all Parishioners, Parish Organizations and non-Parish Organizations, for your kindness and support. May God bestow upon you many blessings for your generosity. The Bible says “God loves a cheerful giver.” Faith in God and financial security with the church’s building, may we continue to see the future with much enthusiasm and hope.
I would like to present to you the financial report and the ongoing financial issues of our church.
1. At the end of 2013, we completed the following constructions: the installation of the elevator; redesigned the main entrance to the church; lowered the foundation of the coat room in the Parish Hall – in order that the elevator would operate on three levels (church, parking and basement level); expanded the entrance/exit of our parking lot and added gravel and new asphalt to the parking lot. The physically challenged and elderly people can now fully participate in our church’s activities. The elevator is of great benefit to all of us.
2. The total cost to-date for the installation of the elevator is $ 627, 575.45 (plus HST – partly refundable). On March 23rd 2014, we have to date collected $ 410,396.08. In past years money needed to be re-allocated from the building fund to help offset the daily cost of operating the church, for example, hydro, insurance funds and employee wages. This amount was in the total of $ 60,000.00. The remaining amount in the elevator fund is $ 350,396.08. Personally, I am a little bit concerned and would like to avoid the situation we experienced in the past with the parishioners contributing toward the building fund while reducing or eliminating their Sunday envelopes. The money from our Sunday collection provides the operating account and the building fund helps maintain our facilities. We need both. I thank you for your financial support, generosity and encourage you to use both envelopes to help with the elevator fund and daily expenses of operating the church.
3. It is with great joy to inform you, the Parishioners, of a private donation by one family. During 1994-1996, I became acquainted with Elsie and Lorne Hankinson. Mrs. Hankinson was my personal English tutor. After the death of her husband – Lorne, Elsie donated $ 100,000.00 towards our elevator project. We are very thankful for her generous donation. As our appreciation, we keep her in our prayers and offer a Mass for her husband, every first Tuesday of the month.
4. During the course of renovations, we borrowed from the Chancellery Office a loan (only 4% interest) to pay for the expenses of the elevator. The quicker we pay off the debt, the sooner we can eliminate the loan. I would like to suggest some possible fundraising initiatives:
a) Our parish consists of over 830 families. In the yearly packet of offering envelopes, you will find an additional monthly envelope entitled Elevator Project. Besides the regular Sunday offerings, we encourage every family to donate $ 25.00 towards this building fund, which breaks down to $ 6.00 per Sunday offering. As you are aware, the church building expenses increases yearly.
b) It is worthwhile to note that many parishes are supported by private funds and inheritance donations. I would like to suggest that, in recognition of the sacramental gifts bestowed on us in our lifetime, please remember the needs of our parish when finalizing your will. I have been the Pastor of St. Joseph’s Church since 2005, and since that time, the following persons have remembered the church in their will and have left the following amounts:
– Nellie Anderson donated $ 67,091.00 (2007-2011)
– Konstancja Czuber donated $ 1,000.00 (2010)
– Katarzyna Krupicz donated $ 15,038.69 (2006)
For these benefactors of our church, we offer a Mass every first Tuesday of the month.
c) As the renovations and the installation of the elevator have been completed, plaques are now available to purchase. These plaques commemorating your offering will be mounted on the wall next to the elevator. The details for the commemorative plaques are as follows:
– Any person donating $ 1,000.00 dollars or more as a onetime gift is eligible for a plaque naming the donor.
– Over the years, many of our parishioners have made donations of $1,000 through the use of the monthly blue envelopes. These persons will also be recognized if they wish, for their generosity, with a name plaque.
– A onetime donation of $ 1,000.00 or more can be offered in memory of deceased family members (e.g. John and Mary Smith) or friends (2 names only).
– Donations of $ 1,000.00 or more from living persons, organizations and businesses will also be acknowledged by a separate plaque.
– The plaques are available in English or Polish.
d) In the event of funerals or requests for a Mass to commemorate the soul of a deceased relative, parishioners are encouraged to make their donations to the Elevator Project. In appreciation to all the donors, a Mass will be celebrated every first Tuesday and Wednesday of the month.
e) Additional Elevator project envelopes are available for donations at the church entrance. All donations to the elevator project will receive receipts for tax purposes.
f) All other fund raising proposals to cover the costs associated with the installation of our elevator by parishioners or organizations are welcome.
5. Every year, every Parish is obliged to pay (Cathedraticum) towards the Chancellery Office. Our parish pays 9-11% from our weekly Sunday and Holiday collections. Due to the Parish Hall renovations and other building repairs, our Parish received an exception from paying the Cathedraticum for the years 2007-2011. To further clarify, we were not obliged to pay during those years, but rather postpone the payment for future years. From 2012-present, we were granted another exemption, due to the construction of the elevator. The total cost of Cathedraticum for the years 2007-2013, was $ 165,896.81; from this sum, we have been only able to pay back $ 98,347.34. The remaining difference stands at $ 67,549.47. I would like to share some good news, that at my request, Bishop Crosby granted forgiveness of past years 2010-2012 Cathedraticum totalling $ 55, 639.93. As of today, we only owe Cathedraticum for 2013, in the amount of $ 11,909.54.
In conclusion, I heartfully thank all Parishioners and all organizations for your spiritual and generous financial support towards St. Joseph’s Church over the past few years, making this dream a reality. It was well worth our efforts and energies to invest in the elevator project that parishioners can benefit from. Rome was not built in a year! Personally, I finally see a light at the end of this tunnel. I pray for each of you and wish you a blessed Lenten season and a joyful Easter season.
10 April 2016
The Elevator Update
After having experienced many difficulties and burdensome obstacles, the elevator was finallyactivated for public use on April 2nd, 2015. Since that time, people with disabilities as well as theelderly can participate more fully in the life of our parish.
The total cost of the project was $ 627,575.43, plus HST. From January 1st, 2008 to December31st, 2015 we have collected a total of $ 506,042.99. For the period of almost ten years of renovation tothe church buildings (which includes the parish hall, the elevator, the lowering the foundations to installthe elevator, the land drainage and the reconstruction of the parking lot with new sidewalks) the totalcost is approximately $ 1,000,000.00.
Unfortunately during the construction period, we did not have sufficient funds on a regularbasis. It was therefore necessary for the parish to borrow from the Chancery Office ($ 145,000 for therenovation of the hall and $ 338,000 for the elevator). Thank you for all those who are still continuingto financially support the repayment of debt in this matter. Unfortunately, some parishioners havespread some misconceptions that once the elevator project was completed, there was no longer a needto contribute more funds for this project. Please remember that our church still has the obligation torepay the debt incurred for the renovations to the parish hall. The total amount of our two loans that wemust still repay to the diocese is $ 270,000.00.
Our parish consists of almost 800 registered families. In the annual packet of offeringenvelopes, you will find an additional monthly envelope entitled “Elevator Project.” Besides theregular Sunday offerings, we encourage every family to donate $ 25.00 per month, which breaks downto about $ 6.00 per Sunday offering.
At the entrance to the church from the parking lot of the parish has been designated a specialwall with the names of people and of organizations who are our benefactors of the elevator. In thatplace brochures can be found that explain how to purchase commemorative plaques. These plaquescommemorating your offering are mounted on the wall next to the elevator. Donations of $1,000.00 ormore may be submitted for the deceased, family members, relatives or friends (2 names only) as wellas for living persons, organizations and business names. The plaques are available in English or Polish.
In the event of funerals or requests for a Mass to commemorate the soul of a deceased person,parishioners are encouraged to make their donations to the Elevator Project. On the first Tuesday andWednesday of the month the Mass for all donors is celebrated.
We encourage parishioners to make private donations and to designate the parish Building Fundin their estate wills. Many parishes are funded through private donations and by their parishionersmaking the parish a benefactor in their wills. We have had a donation from a parishioner’s will in theamount of $ 1,000.00 which was made in the year 2010.
Fr. Adam Wroblewicz, CR
2-3 December 2017
My Dear Fellow Parishioners,
It’s a Christmas gift for our parish and you might say, “it is an elevator to heaven”.
In September 2005, with great enthusiasm, I began my pastoral ministry at St. Joseph’s Church in Brantford, Ontario. Within weeks of my duties, I was approached by parishioners regarding the desperate need for an elevator. I seriously thought about their concern and the best way to accomplish this task.
Without delaying the “Elevator Project” at the beginning of January 2006, we started a thorough renovation of the Parish Hall, which we completed in May 2007. The renovation work was carried out in such a way as to meet the conditions for the construction of the elevator on three levels as quickly as possible. For this purpose, new sanitary facilities (bathrooms) with access for disabled people were built in the Parish Hall and space for the installation of the elevator was reserved.
Due just to name several urgent repair needs at the church such as the rosette stained glass located in the main entrance, lighting replacement, painting of the inside of the church, just to name a few things, the construction of the “Elevator Project” was postponed for a year. In 2008, we requested the engineering company, J.H.Cohoon, to prepare preliminary plans for installing the elevator. With the approval of Chancellery Office of the Diocese of Hamilton, in October 2008 I presented to the parishioners a fundraising opportunity to raise money in the coming years to help offset the cost of the construction.
On December 16, 2012 four years after the launch of the project, I informed the parishioners that the required documentation was completed and partial funding obtained for the construction of the elevator. It was scheduled to start January 7, 2013.
The elevator design was commissioned by an architect from MMMC and the construction company Lanca. With the modernization of the sidewalks, new parking and asphalt, as well as deepening of the foundations so as to maintain the elevator structure, the cost of the project would be $624,575.00.
As soon as the construction work began, we encountered many unforeseen difficulties (e.g. water leakage). After installing the pump and dehydrating the foundations, we continued the planned work.
With great joy, the elevator was put into public use on January 28, 2014. Unfortunately, our joy did not last long. The elevator was out of order and needed repair. The parish did not incur any additional cost as the entire project was still under warranty.
We hired another elevator installation company to diagnose and eliminate the malfunction and to re-activate it.
At this point, I would like to thank Mr. Ryszard Kaczmarczyk, who shared his many years of experience at Otis Elevator Company. He undertook the task of supervising the repair. Due to his unselfish support and great commitment, the elevator was re-commissioned on April 2, 2015.
Many parishioners have asked if we have paid off the debt and, if not, what the balance is outstanding. Some even, have discouraged the singing of my favourite Easter hymn “Nie zna śmierci Pan Żywota”, which translates to “The Lord of Life does not know death.” The second verse of this hymn starts; “Your Debt, Adam, has been paid off.” What a coincidence, the same name and the same challenge of debt. Some of my parishioners told me, “Father, don’t dare sing this hymn until it is true… until this debt has been paid off.”
I am pleased to announce that now, at the end of 2017, the “Elevator Project” debt has been completely paid…. And that finally, this Easter, after initiating the “Elevator Project” almost 10 years ago, we will all sing this Easter Hymn together with hearts overwhelmed with joy and gladness. Thanks be to God. Alleluia!
I am pleased to announce that, at the conclusion of this year 2017, the “Elevator Project” debt has been completely paid.
In envelopes for the following years, the envelope labeled “Elevator Fund” will be replaced with the envelope “Renovation Fund.” The monthly offerings from this envelope will be used for further refurbishment at our church.
In the spirit of gratitude for all the support and assistance in the construction of the elevator, I invite all our parishioners and benefactors on the weekend, December 9-10, after each Mass, to the Parish Hall, for refreshments to commemorate our success and rejoice in our goal achievement.
For more than two years now, the elevator has been used without any faults. I hope it will serve the next generations to come to worship in our Parish Church.
I would like to thank all parishioners, Church organizations, the local Polish communities, private businesses, various foundations, and anonymous donors for their generosity. Let us remember how Sacred Scripture assures us: “God loves a cheerful giver.”