The idea of “the more” is that you’re always striving toward a horizon, but when you arrive there’s a new horizon to reach. Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange often meet together to check that new horizon and to determine a Gospel-rooted, faithful response. We recognize that the future of religious life may not look like its recent past. Evolving how we engage with others to meet the needs of the dear neighbor locally and globally is a must for the 21st century. Being good stewards of our precious resources is essential to moving the mission forward.
Among these precious resources, we dared to dream what our underutilized home, St. Joseph Center in Orange, could become. Many partners and friends helped create a transforming vision to build on the grace of this place. Progress on Phase 2 of this project, addressing the nitty-gritty operations of the evolving St. Joseph Center, is wrapping up this month.
Behind the scenes, our large kitchen needed updated equipment and a new configuration to adapt to what is taking place on campus. Phase 2 will provide a new kitchen. Our heroic dietary staff continues to prepare three meals a day for over 60 sisters living at Regina Residence, via a trailer and other temporary buildings while construction is underway. The sisters living at Regina have been troopers too, dining in their community room while their serving line and main dining room are reconstructed for efficient preparation and delivery of meals.
This project is where pieces of the future St. Joseph Center literally come together. Near the kitchen facility are the Motherhouse dining room and a guest dining room. As these spaces are superfluous to our current and future needs, they are being transformed into new gathering places. A portion of the square footage in the former dining areas will create a new breezeway that leads behind the Motherhouse building to the west doors of Sacred Heart Chapel. The path enables people to navigate north and south through St. Joseph Center while forgoing the meandering back alley around the College Building and through the delivery area.
Most dramatic in this phase, Sacred Heart Chapel will welcome visitors with a newly created entrance visible from Batavia Street. The easily accessible entrance preserves the large evergreens next to the building. St. Joseph himself, a statue gifted from Christ the King School in Lubbock decades ago, will move several yards from his current location to a new perch where he will greet chapel guests. Phase 2 is nearly complete with only work on the campus kitchen remaining to be completed.
Good things come in threes. Phase 3 is a new front door for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange that will be located adjacent to the Ministry Building on the north side of St. Joseph Center. Work on Phase 3 is anticipated to begin in Fall 2017. In the meantime, we’re collaborating with Mercy Housing to renovate our Motherhouse building. The newly named Villa St. Joseph will become affordable housing for seniors and veterans, owned by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange and operated by Mercy Housing. This is not Phase 3, but a project all its own.
Phase one refresher
Phase 1 began in late 2015 and filled 2016. The College Building, originally built for and named for the place where sisters continued their collegiate education, is once again aptly named. The renovated space is home to the University of San Francisco’s southern California campus. The Spirituality Building also received a significant renovation in Phase 1, and is now home to Emmaus Spiritual Ministries and the Loyola Institute for Spirituality. Both buildings are open and flourishing.