It is a blessing that our parish has many spiritual groups, ministries and apostolates that remain active
even during this time of pandemic. They witness to the resilient faith of our people as well as their love for
the mission of Church. Since arriving to the parish a month ago as your pastor, I have been inspired by the
active involvement of our parish leaders and the sheer number of people that are served spiritually and
socially every day, both at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and at St. Margaret Mary’s Church. Through
these services, we are showing the compassionate face of God to the people of our wider community.
The constant activities that are a positive characteristic of our parish, however, can become a pastoral
challenge if they are unregulated and uncoordinated, especially in a multiethnic and multilingual community
such as ours. Despite the best intentions and efforts, problems related to the proper and responsible use of
parish facilities do occur on a regular basis. They need to be addressed from time to time in order to ensure a
safe, clean and efficiently maintained environment for everyone.
One of such problems has to do with security. In the last few weeks, for example, our Church building and
the Pastoral Institute were found open several times, with doors unlocked, air conditioners and lights left on,
and meeting spaces in disarray after certain groups have left. On a couple of occasions, the staff and I have
encountered strangers with questionable motives in places where they were not authorized to enter or
remain after parish hours. This poses not only a security risk to the buildings themselves, or a waste of parish
resources, but also a legal liability issue to our parish as a whole should any accident occur. In light of these
incidents, we will need to make some decisions and changes in how we use our parish facilities and
resources, which will require the willing cooperation of all.
Having consulted with our priests, staff and certain parish leaders about this very serious issue, I now bring
it to your attention with the view towards raising awareness and encouraging the responsible use of our
parish facilities. To ensure greater accountability and efficient use of our facilities, we will now ask that all
parish groups, ministries and apostolates that want to use our parish space designate a representative who
will be accountable in matters concerning logistics, security and cleanliness for the space used. Specifically,
that designated person will need to sign in for the keys taken out of the Rectory Office, ensure that no one
stays around when a meeting finishes; turn off all lights and air conditioners as well as the HVAC Air
Ventilation System if it was on; and keep the place clean and in good order for the next group’s use. While
our priests and staff will monitor the use of all parish facilities on a daily basis to ensure compliance,
ultimately these issues require everyone’s conscientious effort and mindfulness. As a rule, “if you see
something, say something”. In other words, if you see any suspicious activity, report it. Together, we can
make our churches, halls and parish meeting spaces more secure and comfortable to all.
I am grateful to the priests, the parish staff members, group leaders and people of good will who have
sacrificed so much in their daily service of God’s people. I pray that our unified effort from now on in this
regard will contribute to a smoother operation of our parish and inspire all who will come through our doors
to experience the merciful face of God.
Msgr. Cuong M. Pham