Special to The Dialog
When St. Mary of the Assumption Church was built in Hockessin in 1964, parishioners had hoped for stained glass windows but finances dictated regular glass instead.
Fifty years later parishioners will get a second chance at that original church vision.
The parish has designated its $407,000 parish portion of the Sustaining Hope for the Future campaign toward creation and installation of nine stained- glass windows.
“We need to replace the windows anyway,” said Father Charles Dillingham, pastor of the 242-year-old parish. “They are 50 years old and not energy efficient. This will allow us to do that in a beautiful way.”
Sustaining Hope for the Future is a $28-million campaign aimed at putting the diocese back onto its feet following the 2011 bankruptcy settlement that settled suits filed by victims of clergy sexual abuse. The campaign seeks $3 million for the Trust for the Welfare and Retirement of Priests; $10 million for the Lay Employee Pension Fund; $2 million for diocesan ministries, and $11.2 million for individual parish projects.
St. Mary’s and 32 other parishes are in Wave II of the campaign, which officially starts this weekend.
Twenty-one parishes pledged almost $7.25 million, or just under 80 percent of their combined targets in Wave I. Additionally, three parishes conducting their own campaigns raised $5.3 million that included almost $1.5 million earmarked for Sustaining Hope for the Future.
In total, more than $16 million has been pledged, including over $3 million raised by Bishop Malooly and nearly $500,000 contributed by the priests of the diocese.
David Burton of St. John the Apostle in Milford, another Wave II parish, believes Sustaining Hope for the Future is vital both for the diocese and for the individual parishes.
Burton, one of Bishop Malooly’s chairs for the campaign, noted that the diocese has “been through a dark time. I think the scars will remain with us forever, but it’s no longer an open wound. We need to move on and do what the church should be doing, and that’s to minister to people.”
Roof repair, air conditioning
At St. John and its sister church, St. Bernadette in Harrington, the campaign will help meet several vital needs. The parish’s goal of $425,000 includes $255,000 toward the diocesan goal and $170,000 for parish projects.
The roof needs replacement and the steeple needs repair at St. John’s. “We’ve got a leaky roof. You’ve got to replace it,” Burton said.
At St. Bernadette the parish hall has no air-conditioning. “It’s not very pleasant on a hot day,” said Burton. The plan calls for air conditioning to be installed and the ceiling lowered and insulated to reduce future cooling costs.
The church and hall at St. Bernadette will also receive new doors.
Much of the parish’s portion would provide a good down payment on a new rectory. Burton said the current rectory, built 60 years ago and now also used for office space, is inadequate.
The priests lived upstairs but the living room, dining room and kitchen on the ground floor now also house parish offices, leaving little privacy for the priests in their living quarters.
“If we can get this done I think we will have very comfortable – not lavish or elaborate – but very comfortable living quarters for our priests.”
Two priests currently live in the rectory.
‘To fulfill a dream’
At St. Mary’s in Hockessin the stained- glass windows would honor the parish’s history as well as the Blessed Mother, Father Dillingham said.
A window depicting St. Patrick, the historic name of the parish’s third church, will be installed near the Daily Mass Chapel, the pastor said. Another depicting St. John the Evangelist, namesake for the second church in Hockessin, will be located near the tabernacle of St. Mary’s, the current parish church. The Assumption of Mary would be near the main entrance.
Six other windows would depict the wedding feast at Cana and the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.
Sustaining Hope for the Future provided the parish a chance to return to the past to finish a vision. As Father Dillingham put it:
“We felt that Sustaining Hope for the Future was a golden opportunity to fulfill a dream that was born 50 years ago.”