Most Reverend Robert J. Dwyer, Archbishop, 1967 – 1974
ST. BIRGITTA PARISH ENTRUSTED TO FRANCISCAN FATHERS OF THE MOST HOLY REDEEMER PROVINCE IN CROATIA
After the parish boundaries were established on July 10, 1969, Archbishop Robert J. Dwyer decided to entrust the parish of St. Birgitta to the care of the Franciscan Fathers of the Most Holy Redeemer in Croatian. An agreement was made between the Archdiocese in Portland with the said Franciscan Province on August 29, 1969.
FINANCIAL REPORT FOR ST. BIRGITTA PARISH IN 1969
In order to keep the parishioners informed about the financial condition of the parish, the pastor mailed the following letter to all members:
SUGGESTION BOX INTRODUCED
Sometime in November of 1971, a "suggestion box" for the parish was mentioned in which the parishioners could give their ideas for the temporal and spiritual improvement of the parish.
In view of this, Father Milan Mikulich, pastor, published in the parish bulletin of December 5, 1971, the following: "Some parishioners suggested to place a 'suggestion box' in the vestibule of the church in which anyone will be able to leave a note (it does not have to be signed) suggesting various ways of raising funds for our parish. We have to admit that we are a small parish and need help from outside through various activities. The parish debt of $9,600.00, assessments, insurances, and other monthly bills are to be taken care of.
In the parish bulletin of December 12, 1971, the following notice was published: "'Suggestion box' for your suggestions is left on the table in the vestibule of the church. You may leave your suggestions without even signing them. Some are already found in the box. They will be published after Christmas."
In the parish bulletin for Christmas 1971 it was stated that the "suggestion box" contains some good suggestions for our parish. Please, place yours, too."
The results of these suggestions were published in the parish bulletin on January 30, 1972, and they are as follows: "To have Mass and benediction on first Friday in the evening, then a social in the hall for adults and children so that all can get together. - To have bi-monthly raffle offering various items. - To have a spring carnival or festival with various games, feeds, handwork, etc. - To have a parish campaign (on our own without any professionals) in order to reduce our parish debt. A committee of about 10 persons suggested to arrange it. - To have dances in order to provide a new organ in the church."
The list of the committee members was published in the parish bulletin of February 6, 1972, and thus began the campaign for reduction of the parish debt. The parish bulletin reads: "As suggested in the "suggestion box", and as announced last Sunday, a committee of men and ladies was formed to arrange and conduct this campaign. In an alphabetical order listed they are: Mr. G. Brady, Mrs. Bertha Cochran, Mrs. Helen Cholick, Mrs. Edith Cholick, Mrs. Charlene Dady, Mr. K. Jacks, Mrs. Ann Marquardt, Mr. Walter Royer, Mr. Albert Schmit, and Mr. E. Zak."
At the same time, a meeting for the committee was set for Friday, February 11, 1972, at the parish rectory.
The purpose of the campaign was "to ask for some extra help, according to the ability of each of us, in order to reduce our parish debt as soon as possible so we may avoid paying for too long a large sum of money just for interest. Our present parish debt is $8,739.90.
At the meeting of February 11, 1972, Mr. E. Zak was elected chairman of the campaign.
In the parish bulletin of February 20, 1972, it was announced that the committee will meet again on Friday, February 25, 1972, after the evening Mass, to make the final plan for the campaign.
It was stressed again that the present debt was $8,739.90.
At the same time it was pointed out that since 1956 the parish paid on debt about $19,000.00 (on principle), but on interest was paid $18,000.00. It was also stressed that we should make every effort to eliminate this debt because, "if we do not speed up to reduce this debt, we may end in paying another 6 to 7 thousand dollars for interest alone before we pay the present debt. Some say: "Why can't we reserve at least $10.00 a month for the debt?". - In fact, recently we did much more than that. But still, we have to keep in mind that the current bills have to be paid. They do not wait! From December 28, 1971, we paid on debt $750.00; on interest, including July 1 to December 31, 1971, we paid $291.89; on archdiocesan assessments for 1969-70 and 1970-71, we paid $517.31; in insurances $39.39, and on federal and state taxes $35.10."
In the parish bulletin of March 5, 1972, it was announced that the committee will send a letter within a few days to inform all parishioners about the campaign and to invite all on Sunday, March 19 - feast of St. Joseph - to the church hall, where the members of the committee explained to the individuals the financial situation of the parish and answered some questions. They received the promises for the extra financial contribution for the reduction of the parish debt. Coffee and pastries were served "on the house".
The results of this campaign on Sunday, March 19, 1972, were published in the parish bulletin on March 26, 1972: "35 persons promised to donate for the debt $5,580. From this promised amount already received $1,210.00. Other persons expressed their intention of doing their share soon. It was stated that "as soon as money comes in, it will be applied immediately on the debt". On that Sunday all Holy Masses were offered for the benefit of the parishioners!
In the following months more and more of the Parishioners were adding their promises and faithfully contributing what they promised.
Due to the generosity and sacrifice of the parishioners, we were able to pay regularly on our parish debt so that with the last payment of $430.00 on December 27, 1973, we could write in our books about the parish debt "which is paid in full for church building."
After every hard and successful labor a celebration is in order. So, the parishioners of St. Birgitta did celebrate the mortgage burning on Sunday of January 27, 1974, with a High Mass in Latin, followed by free refreshments at 1:00 pm, in the church hall.
St. Birgitta’s Mortgage Burning Celebration, January 27, 1974
PAINT AND STEEL SIDING ON THE CHURCH
On April 23, 1972, the pastor informed the parishioners about the paint on our church. "Last year we painted the church, but it began to peel off about four months after it was painted, and now it peels off all over. Last week a professional painter was called to find out the reason. He gave the reason, and it is this: originally the church made of cedar was just stained. Stain was damaged by the weather and looked very bad. It was decided by the parishioners to paint it in white. At the beginning that paint looked very nice, but later it began to peel off very fast. We painted it several times, but recently it began to peel off almost immediately. The professional painter said that the original creosote on the wood does not accept and hold well the paint. He stated that any further painting is just a waste of money unless it is "burned" with a torch to remove that paint and creosote, then given two paint coats ..."
His estimate for the job of burning with the torch and two coats would amount to about $2,000.00.
Since this cost was too high for the parish, we decided to paint it again on our own, first trying to remove the old paint as much as possible.
In June of 1972, the volunteers, men and ladies, of the parish began to do the work. A heavy rain for several weeks and then heat for more weeks interrupted the project. The pastor tried to make it easier on the parishioners and asked some professionals to complete the job, i.e., to give the second coat on three sides, and in the back of the church the first and the second coat. The price given was $850.00. When this information was given to some parishioners, they suggested that all who are able should come and help on Saturday, September 2, 1972, and finish it. The pastor promised to the volunteers a good meal and a much better reward from the Lord!
Thanks to the generous cooperation of the parishioners, the paint job was finished. However a month or two later the paint began to peel off badly.
Some of the parishioners suggested that we should look into the steel siding as a permanent installation which would not need any painting or repair.
Two or three companies were called to give us their estimate, and finally we selected the Capital Aluminum Co., Inc., of Portland, Oregon.
They gave us two prices, i.e., to install the steel siding only on the walls of the church, without the eaves, for $3,000.00, or to install the steel siding on the walls, plus the aluminum siding under the eaves, for $4,000.00.
On December 30, 1973, Father Milan Mikulich, O.F.M., pastor, asked the parishioners to choose the offer, and they decided to install also the aluminum under the eaves in order to avoid any future painting in such high places.
It was agreed also that the steel boards should be installed in a vertical position so they would match the wooden boards lying under them in a vertical position.
At the end of the completed job the parish received a written guarantee by the U.S. Steel Co. (which is being kept in the parish office) for the period of 30 years.
The parish was rather fortunate in the price for two reasons. The job was done in December of 1973 and January of 1974 when there was shortage of work and the said company wanted to give us a lower offer just to keep their good workers busy. The second reason was the hope for the company to get more customers by advertising through the work on a church. The parish was also lucky to have done this job at that time because about two months later the wages and the price of material were raised. A business man told the pastor that the job would not have been done for less than $6,000.00 if we had waited a little longer.
Through the splendid cooperation of the parishioners who donated an extra $35.00 per family and through other parish activities, we were able to pay in full for this work during the year of 1974.
NEW ROOF ON THE CHURCH
The new building of St. Birgitta church was erected in 1955. The roof showed some signs of need for renovation. The parish had no sources for finances. Mr. Tom Feehely, a parishioner, donated a heifer for raffle for that purpose. We made 150 tickets each for $5.00, and 2 tickets for $9.00.
In the Parish Bulletin of September 3, 1972, it was published that until then 35 tickets were sold out of 65 which were taken by individuals for sale.
On Sunday, October 15, 1972, after the 8:00 a.m. Mass, the drawing took place in the church hall where coffee and pastries were served. In the parish bulletin for that Sunday it was announced that only 75 tickets were sold up to the time of publishing the bulletin.
The winner of the heifer was Mrs. D. E. Hakkarainen, 8010 N.W. Skyline Blvd., a neighbor of Tom Feehley, to whom he sold the winning ticket. An Episcopalian lady, she said that she admired the work done by the people of St. Birgitta during the past years.
Father Milan Mikulich, O.F.M., pastor, expressed his sincere thanks to Tom Feehley, who donated the heifer, and to all those who either sold or purchased the tickets. The clear profit of the raffle was $450.00.
In the same parish bulletin the pastor thanked also Al Schmit and his brother, Henry Schmit, for purchasing the roof material for the church for a 50% discount, totaling only $251.64.
It was announced that professional people will be hired to install the roof.
Mr. Todd Eiden installed the new roof in Fall of 1973 for the sum of $400.00.
PROBLEMS CREATED FOR ST. BIRGITTA PARISH BY GEORGIA PACIFIC AND MEDFORD CORPORATION CHIPS AND SAWDUST PLANTS IN ITS VICINITY
At the beginning of 1972, Georgia Pacific purchased the piece of land which belonged formerly to Kingley Lumber Co.
When they were constructing their plant, no one knew what kind of business it would be. For this reason nobody could make any complaint about it to the city authorities.
When it was completed, it was evident that the plant would grind the wood into chips and sawdust. They had several blowing stacks raising sawdust into the air so much that during the windy times sawdust was falling on the church buildings, cars, ground, even on the persons, hitting them in the eyes.
The danger was that this sawdust was clogging the drain pipes on the church property. Since there is no city sewer, the pipes lead into the gravel under the ground. If sawdust clogs the drain gravel under the ground, then the water will back up into the church hall. It also might affect the septic tank field from the hall to the picnic grounds.
The parish made some complaints to Georgia Pacific through attorney Mr. Paul Reeder. The company's attorney answered in 1972 that they will remedy the situation and make up for the damages. Meanwhile, the situation was getting worse, and Georgia Pacific was not responding. Another complaint was made, and their new attorney and consultants came to inspect the sawdust on the church ground. They admitted the fact and promised to remedy. At the same time, Medford Corporation, Inc. decided to build another plant for the same purpose of producing chips and sawdust behind the church and much closer to the church building.
The parishioners and the people of Linnton and St. Johns got organized and complained to the DEQ (Department of Environmental Equality) and to the city hall.
In the beginning the DEQ showed some good signs as being in favor of our cause. We hoped that the Medford Corporation would not get the permit, although they began to construct without obtaining it.
Later on DEQ seemed to have changed their stand in favor of Medford Corporation.
In fact, at the public meeting called by DEQ on December 19, 1974, at the Linnton Community Center, one of the officials of DEQ was the one who introduced the petition of Medford Corporation and urged those present to accept it.
After both sides, including also Father Milan Mikulich, O.F.M., presented their arguments for and against, Mr. Paul Reeder, our attorney stood up and attacked the DEQ official for being so partial to Medford Corporation. He informed him that his job was to hear both sides, and not side with one side!
DEQ installed some instruments on the church property which collected the flying sawdust to determine how much of it falls from the air onto the ground.
Meanwhile, the sale of chips and sawdust in Japan was slowing down even from Georgia Pacific. For this reason, Medford Corporation interrupted the further construction of their plant in which they have already spent about $2,000,000.00.
It is our hope that they never resume it!
However, we hoped that taking Georgia Pacific to court for damages might convince the court later on to stop the further work on their plant.
Father Milan Mikulich, O.F.M., pastor, presented the case to Archbishop Cornelius M. Power, who suggested that the parish should take the case to court for damages.
Father Milan Mikulich authorized Mr. Paul Reeder to go ahead, and we now are just waiting to see what will develop.