First things first: Visions are not plans.
Visions are subject to the leading of the Holy Spirit (Who leads only in the present moment).
Plans are more rigid and cause people to get bent out of shape when they don’t go as projected.
So, here’s the clearest direction that we have been given up to the present moment:
Step 1: Save Money & Materials — COMPLETE
Because we were able to graduate seminary debt-free, and thanks to the wonderful people of St. Thomas who are providing a place for us to live in Springfield (cost-free) for the next year or so, we’re in a position to save quickly. We’re doing everything we can to save as much money as possible for a substantial down-payment on a home in Rolla. We’re hoping to build our own with alternative and sustainable building methods (i.e. reclaimed timber, cob, straw-clay, etc.), but we are open to finding a house with 10-20 acres attached to it.
Dn. Joel is currently looking for full-time work but in the mean-time he’s also working with as many clients as possible. We’re also visiting as many Missouri-area parishes as we can to inform people of what we’re doing and hopefully make some connections that will help sustain us in the future.
How you can join the effort now
Right now we need prayers, donations (materials and/or money), and work. Regarding purchasing a house, we’re really not comfortable asking for donations to help us purchase it for ourselves — we’d rather work for it »
Step 2: Build or buy house with land, move to Rolla (2013 / 2014) — COMPLETE
An article from the New York Times, “A Cottage of Straw, Handmade in Texas”, illustrates how we are hoping to build our home in Rolla. It’s efficient, sustainable, and very cost-effective. This narrated slideshow that they have about the home is fantastic as well.
Regarding a proper approach to evangelization, Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, in his book Facing the World, tells people that they must “go and die with the natives“. In this day of advertisements, gimmicks, and over-saturated lifestyles, it takes a lifetime to show that the work one is doing is of Christ. This is exactly our hope as we make our move to Rolla – go to live alongside, be present and die with the folks there.
Step 3: Build a small chapel near the house (2015) – COMPLETE
The inspiration for building a chapel rather than a church comes from a few sources, but seeing what this priest did with a garden shed in his back yard in England is our prime example of a practical approach. We would like to start with a small chapel instead of a full-size church because it could be built quickly, easily maintained during the first few years of growth, and hopefully, once the parish has out-grown it, would “force” the parish to take on the responsibility for a larger church building. Undertaking the project of building the church will also help build and solidify relationships within the community.
Step 4: Be present in Rolla, grow the community (2015 – 2022) – IN PROGRESS
The City of Rolla is the quintessential midwestern American city. Upon visiting you will find that the people are kind, conscientious, and nearly half would call themselves Christian. It is an important center for state and federal education and research in science and technology. It is the home of the Missouri University of Science and Technology and the US Geological Survey operates a large regional facility. The headquarters of the Mark Twain National Forest, the only United States National Forest in Missouri, is also located in Rolla. It is also part of the Ozark Highlands American Viticultural Area, with vineyards established first by Italian immigrants to the area.
Step 5: Build a permanent church building (2022)
Fr. Patrick Reardon once used the analogy of a water fountain for growth at his parish in Chicago: People were drawn to the church, entered in and learned the process of healing. Then they were sent upward and outward to refresh and offer healing to others. The Christian community was never meant to be static, but dynamic and alive, always moving and growing. However, growth doesn’t always mean to get larger. The average human body goes through a time of physical growth then eventually settles at a certain size yet it continues to mature.
Our goal for a church building is similar: Once the time comes to build, the building should be able to accommodate 150-200 people, and simply mature from there in different ways – beautifying and maintaining the temple and the grounds, directing more financial resources toward public service, establishing ministries and local missions, etc.
We have seen and are encouraged by many examples throughout history that show the positive fruit that comes from this sort of growth, sending out more servants of Christ who wish to continue the work of the church in a way that allows them to meet the needs of all who are near to them.
Step 6: Help plant new missions! (2027-2032)
And reach full capacity. And establish a local social ministry. And send people to seminary, and to monasteries, and overseas on missions, and… you get the point.