1. Sacred Heart Church suffered significant damage in the 1989 earthquake.
The archdiocese own engineering report says it did not. Some small pieces of ceiling plaster fell many many years ago. That is it! There are safety nets up just in case. But, yes it does require retrofitting under the UMB codes.
2. Retrofit cost of $6 million
(A) New technologies have lowered the cost of retrofits.
(B) First estimates from years ago have been proven high. Most new estimates come in sometimes 50% lower.
(C) Several engineering firms are willing to do new surveys, pro bono, of the Sacred Heart building to prepare a base for new retrofit estimates.
3. Sacred Heart parish could never raise the $6 million retrofit cost on their own.
(A) No parish has been left solely on their own to raise funds nor relied solely on donations from within the parish geographical boundaries. (B) Parishioners were halted when they began action to create a capital campaign fund. They were told it was not necessary at that time. We are confident we can raise the money.
4. Sacred Heart is a poor parish.
Sacred Heart fiscal records are in the black. We meet all our financial obligations. We have over $200,000 in our bank account. We can look at additional means of income such as renting out the parking lot for events.
5. We did everything possible to save Sacred Heart church and parish.
No they did not. The archdiocese earmarked Sacred Heart as the only church to be demolished in its February 15, 1995 letter to the Direct, DBI, categorizing all it UMB buildings. Furthermore, five years ago placed a congenial man but an inadequate leader as pastor. I have been told that this was done purposely so the Sacred Heart Parish Mission would continue to decline providing the archdiocese the ammunition to close the church.
6. Not enough parishioners.
In the 1950s Sacred Heart mass attendance averaged only 30 people and it grew. The Western Addition neighborhood is currently undergoing a great transformation with the removal of the Central Freeway and the opening of the Octavia Corridor. Our numbers will grow again.
7. The City needs affordable housing.
This is the best use of the building. Attempt to preserve the exterior but convert interior to housing.
The City and the Western Addition also need affordable meeting halls, community use facilities The parishioners are not adverse to "shared use." This is the national trend and it is not contrary to Canon law. In fact such a plan was drawn up a few years ago. Parishioners and community members were not allowed to be part of the process nor even see the plan. There has been no explanation why it was taken off the table.
8. Sacred Heart parish council were participants in the decision.
No they were not. A 2001 letter from the archbishop expressly stated that the parish would remain alive. The Sacred Heart parish council was invited sporadically to meet the archdiocese pastoral planning council to hear their plans of shared and alternate use of the church building. They were not part of the process. As one member of the Sacred Heart parish council said, We were talked down to like we were ignorant folks right off the plantation wearing shoes for the first time. They were never told of a final decision to close the church building and dissolve the parish.
9. The archdiocese is helping to transition parishioners to whatever church/parish they wish so they can remain together as a community. We will provide shuttle buses.
Sacred Heart church is the last predominately African-American Catholic parish in the Western Addition. They dont want to move. Many travel from all over the city to pray at Sacred Heart. The transition doesnt work and has never been successful. Many just stop going to church, which is what happened at All Hallows Church. Three years after the closing of St. Edwards church a poll found the parishioners scattered to seven different churches including three Episcopalian.
10. Shortage of priests.
Sacred Heart is willing to share a pastor with another church. Called "twinning" and allowed in Canon law.
11. What will the archdiocese put in the place of Sacred Heart to compensate its loss in the Western Addition community?
To my knowledge this has never been discussed.
For further information on how to get involved please call 415-646-0429.