A few months I gave an update on the status of Bethany Hills Baptist Church, which is next to us on Leesville Road. You may recall that in December of 2013, St. Francis purchased the Bethany Hills property for $2.4 million. Since last September, after I arrived at St. Francis as pastor, I have been in discussion with members of our staff about future plans for that property. In December of 2014, we learned that a Vietnamese Catholic community called Our Lady of La Vang, currently based out of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Raleigh, has been looking for a building of its own, and upon hearing about our ongoing discussions about the building’s future, expressed interest in the property.
Since that time, a lot has happened. Members of our staff have been in ongoing meetings with members of Our Lady of La Vang and what we have found is that this Vietnamese community has been searching for years for a church to call its own, for a place where they can worship in their own language. As they have said to us, it has been 40 years since the fall of Saigon, in a sense 40 years of “wandering” in search of a kind of promised land, and they are very excited about finally finding a place they can call home.
For us at St. Francis, it was a compelling story to hear. Our Lady of La Vang, working with both St. Francis and the Diocese of Raleigh, has made a strong case, and put together a strong financial plan, After discussion with staff and also with both the pastoral council and the finance council, I have decided that the best way forward is for us to sell the property to Our Lady of La Vang. Selling it accomplishes a couple of things: it provides a home to a Catholic community that has been searching for one for a long time and it also provides financial relief for our parish. We expect the sale to be completed by June 30. Rob Neppel, our Director of Finance and Planning, outlines the financial details on page 3 of the bulletin.
I want to say thank you to everyone who was involved in these discussions and I believe this is an exciting moment for us at St. Francis, as we expect Our Lady of La Vang to take occupancy of the Bethany Hills building by the spring of 2016.
We are excited to welcome them as neighbors!