in East Hampton has launched a capital campaign to raise at least $1 million over three years so that it can afford much needed repairs and updates.
Catholics have been worshiping in East Hampton since even before a church was built in 1894. Seven buildings, three campuses and nearly 118 years later, the parish is struggling to keep up with the costs of repairs and overall finances, despite having one of the larger congregations in town.
The buildings range in age; the original part of the rectory dates to before the Civil War and the parish hall, the newest building, is just 11 years old. The parish maintains the main campus, which includes the rectory, church, parish hall and a former school building that it rents out, as well as the cemetery in East Hampton and in Amagansett.
The Rev. Msgr. Donald M. Hanson, who has led the parish since 2009, said every 25 years the diocese conducts an engineering survey of the entire parish plant in an effort to maintain the structural integrity of the buildings and keep them as code-compliant as possible.
The parish then hired Lynch Development Associates, which exclusively handles church projects, to assess the diocese's findings. A feasibility study was produced to prioritize the areas of greatest need. They are to:
- Replace the roof on the main church
- Convert to gas heat in the church, rectory and business office while also filling the fuel oil storage tanks currently in use
- Install emergency lighting and replace the electrical wiring of all buildings where needed
- Repoint all chimneys where necessary
- Repair business office HVAC system, including damaged air cell pipe insulation in the basement of the business office and, as necessary, asbestos abatement.
- Replace exterior wall of the rectory, which consists of some original cedar shingles that will be replaced with more durable, weather resistant and maintenance-free material
- Install a railing for the choir loft of St. Peter's
- Replace the exterior walls and basement windows of St. Peter's, including replacing the painted cedar shingles.
The development firm considered three criteria; compliance, safety and preservation, in order for the parish to keep up its mission, Hanson said.
Before launching the public campaign, Hanson reached out to longtime supporters. According to Meagan Tenety, the capital campaign director, 28 parishioners donated $222,000.
There are 1,700 households on the parish's rolls, but only about 400 are "rock-solid, active parishioners," Hanson said.
A minimum gift plan of $3,000 over the next 36 months was suggested in an informational packet about the campaign. Pledge categories range in those who give at least $3,000 to those who give $50,000 or more. There is also information available about transfer stocks, matching gift opportunities and planned giving through wills, estate management and life insurance.
"The challenge is the seasonality here," Tenety said. The more affluent people live in the city, she said, adding that they belong to parishes there that they are more apt to give to. It's a problem seen at church's in resort-areas. , based in Huntington, is also working with the in Westhampton.
St. Peter the Apostle, which holds services from Palm Sunday until New Year's, is jam-packed in the summer. A retired priest, the Rev. Msgr. Charles Guarino, who lives in Montauk, leads the services.
Most Holy Trinity has a growing Hispanic congregation and an appeal will be made to those members, as well.
In recent years, Most Holy Trinity has struggled with its finances in general. "We still have a gap in our operating budget," Hanson said, though much has been done to trim costs through, for example, volunteer buy-out packages for church employees.
Tenety said that often her firm finds that during capital campaigns, weekly offerings increase, helping boost funds for the operating budgets. Those who can't afford to make large donations, will give a few extra dollars to help the church in general.