A Tale of Two Entities!

It has now been almost five years since we purchased the former property of Zion Lutheran Church and made it our home. It was June of that year when Zion decided it could no longer function as a church, and ironically, the same month we began looking for a property to build a new home for Saint Miriam after being in Blue Bell for six years. That is how we discovered that wooded lot of almost three undeveloped acres at the northwest corner of our current property, bordering Church Road. We placed a bid and it was accepted and that led to negotiations for the entire 12+ acre that included the historic cemetery and a closed school.

Many no longer remember that day, but it is worth noting that the cemetery was in disarray, the church building was badly in need of repairs and upgrades, and the school had been shuttered. At their final day in June, the teachers that had cared for Zion Preschool were formally let go, the school students gone, and their families told that the preschool would be no more after over 35 years of service to the community it called home. Enter Saint Miriam!

We closed on the loan on August 26th. We opened the parish on September 9th and we resurrected the school, too! After only a mere few weeks of hard labor, and well over 37 subcontractors and 42 volunteers, we made our deadline, hired back every teacher, increased their wages and bettered their working conditions. We added safety measures to the school, remediated mold and gave them new paint and carpeting and a safe place to learn and grow. We welcomed back a few former students who still had not committed to another school and every year since we have made it better and better. 

Our sojourn in education has led us to where God wanted. At least that is our belief. We treat our school as one of our major outreach projects and support her financially, with our prayers, and by other means of support and care. We give scholarships to those who cannot afford to attend and we welcome every religion, every creed, all without reservation. All are welcome in our school, just like in our parish. For us, our school is as important as all of our other mission projects, because we know it is our future, and incumbent upon us as parish to outreach, to grow, and to care in kindness those who will one day be our new leaders in the world. We care not about their faith tradition, only that they grow and learn to love in a world so often bent on hate.

As a priest and pastor, it always amazes me how much the greater church decries the lack of young people in the pews while simultaneously removing schools from their campuses and cutting educational opportunities. That is why this June, after more than five years of watching Zion change and morph, learning what is important to us, to students and their parents, and designing a program we can truly be proud of, we have decided to increase our support and dedicate even more resources to our school! These changes will strengthen our identity and care for the school, as well as bring unique resources and a renewed focus and vitality to the education of the youngest among us!

That is why the last few years have been very much like a ‘tale of two entities; the educational entity and the parish entity, but in reality, they are one the same. So, this coming fall, after years of experience now ‘under our belts’, we are bringing everyone to one table to serve better and to reach more people who need a place like ours!

Please join me this Sunday as I walk us through the coming changes for our school as well as our other mission and outreach programs.
Saint Miriam… ‘she ain’t done growing yet!’

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