St. John's abandons plans for youth center

2013-05-14T08:58:00Z 2013-05-15T16:24:17Z St. John's abandons plans for youth centerISABELLE DILLS Napa Valley Register
May 14, 2013 8:58 am  • 

Bishop Robert Vasa of the Diocese of Santa Rosa has canceled the building of a new community gym and youth center on the property of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and School in Napa.

The proposed 17,000-square-foot Napa Valley Youth Center would have provided year-round athletic activities and other after-school and summer programs for school-aged youth who are 17 and under. The facility was intended to provide positive alternatives for students who might otherwise be vulnerable to delinquency, drug abuse and gang violence.

Vasa decided that he could not authorize the building of a community youth center and gym on diocesan property, according to a letter written by Father Gordon Kalil and distributed Sunday to St. John parishioners and school families.

Kalil said the board of directors for the Napa Valley Youth Center considered going forward with the project at a different location, but decided that purchasing land would be too expensive. Last week, the board of directors disbanded.

“It saddens me personally that this has become the status of the Napa Valley Youth Center,” Kalil wrote. “However, I understand the reasons for its loss at this time, but pray and believe in my heart that our agreed upon mission to support the great number of youth in our church, school, and community will become a reality.”

St. John’s had launched a capital campaign in 2010 to help raise $5.4 million to build the Napa Valley Youth Center, as well as an additional $4.1 million to upgrade existing church and school property.

As of this spring, St. John’s had received nearly $3 million in active pledges and donations, and more than $1.6 million had been spent on church and school construction projects, according to the letter. Those projects included a complete remodel of the church, replacing all of the school windows, and installing a new safety crosswalk.

More than 400 families still have a pledge balance to the parish capital campaign. Those families will be contacted and given the choice to cancel their balances or have their balances go toward the seismic retrofit of the roof at St. John the Baptist Catholic School, Kalil said. Any additional funds after the roof retrofit would go toward creating 24 additional parking spaces next to St. John’s by changing Caymus Street to a one-way street with diagonal parking.

Kalil said he wants to get matters resolved with the families with remaining pledge balances before his departure. Kalil is currently serving as a part-time pastor at both St. Helena Catholic Church and St. John the Baptist. He will transfer to St. Helena full-time July 1, after Father Ismael Mora — a bilingual pastor from Eureka — becomes the new pastor at St. John’s.

The Catholic school’s principal, Nancy Jordan, said she was disappointed the youth center and gym project had been stopped, but she respected the bishop’s decision.

“We are now presented with an opportunity to regroup and generate new ideas for our campus and facilities that best meet the needs of our church and school,” Jordan said in an e-mail. “We trust that we can create alternative, but equally effective plans that meet the requirements of our diocese and provide our children with the recreational facilities they truly need.”

The Napa Valley Youth Center project was initially approved by the previous bishop of Santa Rosa, Daniel Walsh, in 2010. Vasa was appointed bishop about two years ago following Walsh’s retirement.

Vasa has taken a firm stance on controversial issues and is known for his orthodox view of Catholic doctrine.

Shortly after Vasa was appointed to the Diocese of Santa Rosa, Queen of the Valley Medical Center tightened its rules regarding tubal ligations — a permanent form of birth control in which a woman’s fallopian tubes are blocked, tied or cut.

Vasa also has proposed implementing a controversial addendum to Catholic school teacher contracts by requiring teachers to affirm that contraception, abortion, same-sex-marriage and euthanasia are “modern errors” and are “matters that gravely offend human dignity.”

Vasa initially wanted to make this a requirement for the 2013-14 school year but reversed his decision following the public outcry of numerous schools in the diocese.

Copyright 2015 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(4) Comments

  1. farmboy
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    farmboy - May 14, 2013 9:52 am
    When the original article ran about the capital campaign starting, I warned readers to be very cautious about giving to this diocese. How soon the faithful forget the "offense to human dignity" by Bishop Zieman who abused a young priest and embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the diocese "building fund" for his own illicit activities. Never made to pay back a nickle, never prosecuted. Parishioners should demand every penny already donated be returned to them and every pledge cancelled but, sadly, they won't. After all, "they respect the Bishop's decision" to renege on the agreement. It is not about what is good for the community, the kids, the parish, or the faith but rather about power and control.
  2. Millenial
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    Millenial - May 14, 2013 12:58 pm
    With all due respect, this article is quite vague and confusing about the actual reasons for abandoning plans for the youth center: "Vasa decided that he could not authorize the building of a community youth center and gym on diocesan property." Could not or would not? Why? Does he lack authority? Diocesan restrictions? Financial concerns? Legal concerns? Apparently Father Kalil understands the reasons for the decision, but your readers could not possibly fathom the reasons based on this article. More details are required.
  3. TDOAW
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    TDOAW - May 14, 2013 4:36 pm
    Alot of interesting things happening at St. John's.and in the Diocese. Bishop pushes addendum to teachers contracts. Some of the clergy and principals from diocese meet with Bishop to discuss enforcement. The addendum is suspended by the Bishop for a while as teachers have to take "catholic classes". St. John's pastor gets relocated to St. Helena, and St. John's capital campaign is shut down. Related? Makes me wonder.
    Question. Was a retrofit in this plan originally when peoples money was solicited? If I gave to a non-denominational gym project, why would I let you keep my money to retrofit your parish school? Why was a church given an extreme makeover with granite, gordon huether glass art etc.if now we are hearing it's parish school needs a retrofit?
  4. Just Sayin'
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    Just Sayin' - June 03, 2013 3:32 pm
    Has anybody ever gone back and done the math?
    Dec 2011 register reports church needs 4.8 million for church and new school gym project, they had 4.8 million in donations and pledges at that time, and that they just spent $850K on the church.
    Nov 2012 register reports campaign has raised 2.75 million (not the 4.8 as reported earlier) for "new napa valley youth center"
    May 2013 Bishop Vasa pulls the plug on the numbers indicate that 5.4 million was needed for Youth Center and an additional 4.1 was needed for school and church. But they then reported that they had just spent 1.6 on church not 850K as reported in Dec 2011???
    Where did the money go? If the school needs a roof, why did that not get done before the new "hot tub"? Why did funds for Youth Center get used to renovate the church?
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