Sale will strengthen 2 organizations

Love INC to purchase Guardian Angels Parish School, convent

Love INC will soon take ownership of both the parish center and convent on the Guardian Angel Catholic Church campus, which are currently owned by the Divine Mercy Parish. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

Love INC will soon take ownership of both the parish center and convent on the Guardian Angel Catholic Church campus, which are currently owned by the Divine Mercy Parish. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — With deep roots in the community, the Guardian Angel Catholic Church campus in Manistee has endured many changes over the years, upholding an important role to many in the community.

The Guardian Angel Catholic Church itself was first established at 371 5th St. in 1888, and later on in 1890, Rt. Rev. Bishop H. J. Richter, of Grand Rapids, blessed the church with its name “Guardian Angel.”

The church is now active seasonally, but three other buildings also stand on the Guardian Angel campus run by the Divine Mercy Parish.

However, the cost to run these buildings has become expensive for the parish.

After plenty of deliberation, the Christian-based nonprofit Love INC will take ownership from the Divine Mercy Parish, of both the parish center and convent on the Guardian Angel campus. The transfer of ownership could take several months until it’s official.

The parish’s Finance Council published a letter in its Feb. 4 bulletin, detailing the change in ownership for the two buildings to its parishioners.

The letter stated: “Over these years our councils have worked hard to assist the pastors to consolidate our various ministries and coordinate the programs each separate church had implemented. This also involved bringing together the finances of three churches under one umbrella.

“The financial work, as with any growing family, was a struggle to meet all our needs. We have made great progress; however, more work is needed to strengthen our stability going into the future. Our parish has a number of buildings that continue to put a strain on our expenses.”

For the first time ever, Robin Paulus, executive director of Love INC, said the nonprofit will close a sale on the two buildings, starting its new journey at a permanent home.

Paulus has been with Love INC for nearly 12 years, and since that time, she said Love INC has rented three different spaces for its services. Currently, Love INC’s office is located at 390 River St.

“We have been looking for a permanent location for many, many years,” she said. “This location is something the church is not using, so it seemed to be a good fit. We have used space in the building to store items in the past, and used it for other functions.”

Currently, Love INC has to generate a working plan to use space in both buildings. Paulus said, at this time, the Guardian Angels Parish School will be used for its offices.

“We are not sure yet how we are going to use the actual convent,” she said. “At the end of February, the board and I will sit down and go over some of those details. At this time I do not know how we are going to use both buildings. We need the space, plain and simple; we have outgrown our space here.”

On Feb. 19, Love INC will close its current offices, and relocate within two weeks until its fully moved on March 5.

“There will be some cost differences in some ways, and savings in other ways,” said Paulus. “We are looking for grants, and possibly will do some fundraisers toward the building. There’s some things we would like to do to the buildings to make it more accessible for our classes.

“(The buildings) need to have upgrades, so it will be a multi-year and stage effort before we are using the buildings to their full capacity.”

Don Digna, business manager with Divine Mercy Parish, said selling the two buildings will help reduce utilities and other expenses from the large campus; however, he said the parish will not sell the church. The parish operates three churches, along with any additional buildings on each campus.

“We are pretty much open six months right now, using the (Guardian Angels Catholic Church) for weddings, funerals and Patron Saint masses,” Digna said. “We published a letter this weekend and there’s been no feedback — people anticipated this. We have too many building, so we had to do something.”

In selling the two buildings, Love INC will take charge of the utilities, maintenance and any other related expenses. Digna said this will also save the parish an annual cost in its budget of around $10,000.

Previously, two renters were using the parish center including the Centra Wellness Network, who used it for workshops, and the Manistee County Child Advocacy Center. In the fall of 2017, Child Advocacy relocated from the parish center, which caused a financial strain.

At this time, Digna said Centra Wellness Network will still rent the parish center.

“Those two renters were at least sustaining the building,” said Digna. “Now, Love INC and us have been partners on various programs; they use our other buildings. We asked them if they would be interested and it went from there.”

With a long history in the community, Paulus said Love INC takes pride in helping to restore the two buildings on the Guardian Angel campus, and preserve it for years to come. She said the nonprofit will soon be posting a sign-up on its Facebook page, asking for help during the move.

“It’s a great thing for us to keep (the Guardian Angels campus) in the community, and to be able to help restore it,” said Paulus. “Down the road we will probably have projects in the building, so there will be opportunities for the community get involved.”

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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