GG : Partners ’ work over thirty years has shown that sacred places are not only spiritual centers but are often community hubs . Is this the case with the parishes selected to work with Partners ? Can you share some examples ?
BM : Indeed , each of our Parishes is part of the whole neighborhood and plays an important role in its collective spirit and sense of worth . The presence of parishes is important in ways above and beyond worship . These parishes have food pantries and soup kitchens ; St . Peter Claver houses the Safe Streets program and St . Edward hosts an employment center . The former site of St . Gregory Church is now a Senior Center , and the school at St . Ann houses outreach also . They definitely serve as community hubs .
GG : Many Dioceses and Archdioceses around the country are consolidating parishes given the changes in our society . What is the situation in Baltimore and can you anticipate how you might plan to put buildings that will no longer be active parishes to new use ?
BM : At this point , we can ’ t know what changes might happen but we do know that our urban parishes face a multitude of challenges that are good cause to prayerfully reflect on the best way to utilize those resources in mission-focused , evangelizing ways . We hope that the work with Partners will help to inform that discussion and better equip the parishes to make the necessary decisions .
A number of buildings in these parishes have already been repurposed for community-oriented functions — for example , St . Ambrose ’ s school for senior housing ; St . Edward ’ s school for employment training and automotive training ; St . Gregory church site for a senior center ; St . Peter Claver school for Head Start ; and St . Ann ’ s school for a Catholic school and a prayer garden that provides an oasis of peace in a very dangerous neighborhood .
A stained glass window ( above ) and one of the Staions of the Cross ( left ) at St . Edward ’ s Catholic Church . The station ’ s sculpted relief and gold mosaic were created in Italy in 1947 . Photos : A . Robert Jaeger