August 6, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration this Sunday, I am reminded of the theme of transformation, a concept that resonates with our parish as we make necessary improvements to our church building and parish facilities. These changes, though modest in comparison to Christ’s divine transformation, reflect our strong desire to give glory to God. I wish to share with you updates on these exciting developments within our parish.

Since the beginning of my ministry among you, I have committed to addressing vital projects that were previously delayed. Thanks to your unwavering support, we’ve undertaken renovations and beautifications throughout our sacred and communal spaces. I’m heartened by your appreciation for these efforts.

Last year, together, we tackled the perennial problems of constant flooding and water leaks in both the upper and lower church and surroundings, a potential threat to lasting damage. Through excavation, pipe replacement, drain unclogging, and waterproofing, we not only eradicated these issues but also strengthened and beautified our worship space. This summer, with Bishop Robert Brennan’s approval and the recommendations of the Diocesan Building and Grounds Office, we are addressing the collapsed and broken drainpipes leading to the sewer mainline under the church’s corridor. The temporary closure of the left entrance to the chapel is an unfortunate necessity, but this sacrifice paves the way to a safer and worry-free worship space. We expect that this work will be done within a month from now.

At the same time, we have begun revamping the parish gymnasium’s stage to create an inviting atmosphere for parish celebrations. This includes better lighting, freshly painted walls, and new curtains. We are also considering the installation of a moving gate at the church’s main entrance. This gate will provide enhanced security, ensuring a safe and peaceful environment for all who come to pray in this sacred house.

Along with these exciting developments, I am thrilled to announce the upcoming construction of a glass atrium, a promise we made at the beginning of this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal. This project involves placing a glass and steel roof over the unused outdoor corridor sandwiched between the church building and the rectory’s side garden, transforming it into a welcoming meeting space. Equipped with heating and air conditioning, the atrium will comfortably accommodate approximately 40 people with tables and chairs, offering a new venue for prayer groups and our ever-expanding ministries. Care has been taken to ensure this project will complement our church’s external beauty and integrity. In fact, the new atrium will blend seamlessly into the existing structure, becoming a natural extension of the “greenhouse” that currently houses the staircase connecting the upper church’s side vestibule to the lower church.

These physical transformations are not merely aesthetic; they symbolize our communal growth in faith and our commitment to future generations. I believe that our combined efforts mirror the transformation celebrated on this Feast of the Transfiguration, a brighter, more grace-filled future for ourselves, our children, and our children’s children.

Thank you for your dedication to our parish, particularly through your generous contribution to the Annual Catholic Appeal in addition to your weekly offerings. Your goodness allows us to address the growing needs of our community and make our church even more attractive and welcoming. Together, let us embrace these changes with the joy that emanated from the transfigured Christ on Mount Tabor, and let us pray that Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Astoria will continue to stand as a beacon of God’s glory for generations to come.

With prayers and blessings,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham