The following story appeared in the November 18 Idaho Catholic Register.
Helping to break ground for the expansion of the St. John Vianney Retirement Center for priests are from left, Father Dennis Day, a resident at the center; Juliet Jones, director; Charles Lawrence, director of the Finance Department for the Diocese of Boise; Bishop Peter Christensen; and Margaret Hampton, development coordinator for the Diocese. (ICR photos/Vero Gutiérrez)
By Gene Fadness
Diocesan officials, led by Bishop Peter Christensen, broke ground Nov. 10 on an approximate 8,700-square feet expansion of the St. John Vianney Retirement Center in northwest Boise.
Also taking up shovels were some of the retired priests who currently live in the facility, which, with expansion, will add five apartments as well as a new overnight guest room for those coming from out of town to visit the priests.
Cost for the project is expected to be about $2.1 million. The Diocese has received about $620,000 in grants and gifts from individuals, according to Margaret Hampton, development coordinator for the Diocese. “We also have some endowed investments that will help fund the project, but because of markets dropping, we are needing to raise more,” Hampton said.
The goal is to raise about an additional $430,000, she said.
In the photo from left, Scott Comfort and Duane Seid of Altecca Construction; Father Dennis Day, Father Caleb Vogel, Bishop Peter Christensen, Father Enrique Terriquez, Father John Legerski, Father Roger LaChance and Ron Peterson, president of Altecca Construction. (ICR photos/Vero Gutiérrez)
The Diocese of Boise wants to expand the retirement center from its current eight apartments to 13, with five new apartments planned for the northwest and southwest corners of the center that is near the intersection of Five Mile Road and MacMillan Road in northwest Boise.
In addition to the apartments, there will also be an additional parking space and a guest room for overnight guests. The expansion will add about 8,700 square-feet to the existing 16,400 square-foot facility.
“Our priests stand by us in times of trial, rejoice in our times of celebration, and bring Christ to us through the sacraments,” Hampton said. “They’ve been with us for the major moments of our lives – baptisms, weddings, funerals – and are a guiding presence in our everyday lives. Once their full-time priestly ministry has concluded and they retire, we can’t, and shouldn’t, forget them.”
Before they retire, priests spend most their lives living in homes owned by the parishes they serve. Very few own their own homes. “So when they get to retirement age, they don’t have the equity built up in a home that most others accumulate over a lifetime,” said Bishop Peter Christensen last March when the expansion was first announced.
“Priests are upsizing about the same time lay people are downsizing,” said Father Gerald Funke, now pastor at St. Agnes Parish in Weiser when the center opened in 2011. “Many priests have never owned a home and are considering purchasing for the first time at age 75.” The retirement center precludes that need to buy, with priests paying about
$800 per month for modern living quarters, a shared living room, large kitchen and a chapel.
Juliet Jones, director for the retirement center, said the planned expansion “truly fills a need to offer our priests a welcoming place to live independently and, at the same time, within community. Our priests have sacrificed their lives to love and care for God’s people through the sacraments and walking with us throughout our lives. The St John Vianney Retirement Center gives us all an opportunity to say thank you!”
More than just a place to sleep and eat, the retirement center also has the feel of community and family, Jones said. “My heart soars when I come upon dinner time and can hear the table conversation, dishes clinking, beverages being poured and a prayer of thanksgiving at the end of the meal,” Jones said. “It is the sense of, ‘Ah, this is what home looks like.’ ”
Hampton said the Diocese will continue to raise funds through next summer, though the need is urgent now to get a good start on completing the needed fundraising.
“This project is a great opportunity to make a year-end gift in honor or in memory of a priest or loved one who has impacted your faith journey,” Hampton said. “It will be the gift that keeps on giving by caring for our retired priests now and in the future.”
— Margaret Hampton
Development Coordinator, Diocese of Boise
People can donate online from the Diocese’s website, catholicidaho.org by clicking on the “Giving” tab at the top of the page. They can also call 208-350-7539. “We also accept gifts of stock or Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) from an IRA,” Hampton said.
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