June 11, 2017

have been away from these pages for a few weeks because we have so much going on…but I hope to make it up to you today with a double column.

First, let’s talk construction:

For accounting purposes, project management and the general sanity of all involved, we have broken our current capital improvements into three projects.  (Three!  How did we get to three???) Let me explain and update:

Project one is the front of the Cathedral.   We are still in the demolition stage and in some ways, I think it’s tougher to take down the old  (carefully!) than put up the new.  Most of the steel, limestone and granite have been removed from the roof—only the concrete deck remains. The next two weeks will be spent on disassembling the two black granite pillars.

Once all that work is done, it’ll be time to put it all back together using 2017 building standards.  Our goal is to restore the Cathedral front facade so it will serve the people of St.Raymond and the Diocese of Joliet for the next 100 years.

Our first estimate for this work was a gulp-worthy $1.4 million.  The Diocese will be our 50% partner on this, but for all parties, this is a huge number.   We worked with our contractors and engineers to see if there were ways to reduce the cost.  One of the suggestions was to use a different material other than  granite for the pillars.  Since the majority of the Cathedral    exterior is brick with limestone accent, it made sense to explore our options with limestone.

The rendering below gives you an idea of what the new façade will look like. 


For the last six weeks or so, we’ve been talking through this change with leadership groups in the parish including the Parish Council, Administration Commission, Parish Staff and the Centennial Campaign Steering Committee.   The new look received high praise with most everyone appreciating its lightness and how it melds nicely with the Cathedral itself. 

The change from granite to limestone will account for a $200,000 savings.  That’s 17% of the total cost of the project. 

Project two is the Bell Tower.  Our contractors have been working on estimates for this project as well.  As with the portico, it’s a bit of plan-as-you-go project.  We won’t know entirely what we are up against until we start.

We do know the single largest line item is scaffolding.  Using a traditional system, it will take five weeks to build the scaffolding at least 130 feet up and five weeks to take it down.  We are also looking into a modular system which goes up quicker and comes down quicker, but costs more. 

Either way, we feel we are too late in the season to start the project now and be guaranteed to finish before winter comes. If we had to pause the project for the winter months, we’d be   paying considerable amount in scaffold rental.

So, we have decided to start the project in late winter 2018.  The area is safely secured and our  engineers assure us that the delay won’t make anything worse. 

Project three is the Cathedral exterior.   In recent weeks we’ve taken several walks with the structural engineers and frankly, that’s not nearly as much fun as it sounds.  We do have areas that have cracks and other issues.  With all of these experts and equipment already on site, it is most practical and cost effective to take care of this work now.

For the past few weeks, the engineers have been doing a    complete physical inspection of the  Cathedral structure.    We have gotten some good news and shown some areas that are in need of attention.  We’ll get a final report and recommendation in early July.  It’s likely we’ll try to get this work done in 2017.

Now on to...


So much is happening with our Homecoming Fest so fast—it’s hard to catch your breath.   Let me give you the fast rundown:

Discount tickets are on sale at  For the rest of the month, you can get an adult ticket for $5 online…as opposed to $10 at the gate.  Great way to maximize your Fest funds.  Feel free to buy a bunch for the gang and dole them out.  Each ticket is good for one day’s admittance.

Free tee-shirts for all volunteers.  Yup, we’ll have the best-dressed crew on the festival circuit.  We need lots of help and we promise lots of fun.  (And did we mention the free tee shirt?)  Most are two-hour shifts, some you can do sitting down and some make you the most popular guy or gal in the place.  Please help.  We need you!  You can sign up today after Mass in the Commons or narthex or anytime at

If you build it, they will come.  We hope.  At this point, a great deal of effort is being put into getting the word out.  As a first-time event, we don’t automatically have a following…we need to make every effort to get the word out.  Fr. Brad has been inviting strangers in the grocery store for weeks. If you are willing to do that, have at it, but minimally, ask all your friends and relatives.  This is a family-friendly event perfect for all    generations.  You can be proud to invite folks to your parish.

Signs, Signs,  Everywhere Signs. 

Blue and yellow Homecoming Fest signs are gracing the best lawns these days.  We have a few left.  Call the rectory and let us know your address.  We’ll bring it over.  (Installation free.)

Turns out this Facebook thing might not be a fad. Our Facebook is filled with lots of good stories of things that are happening at the Cathedral of St. Raymond  Parish and School.  (That’s the name of the page.)  Be sure to like and follow it….AND please share all of the Homecoming Fest event page to all your Facebook friends.  That sharing process is the best/easiest/cheapest way we have to spread the word.  BTW,   always go to our FB page for the most up-to-date info.

Coming June 25—our Centennial Commemorative  Magazine. 

VERY excited about this project.  We’re  producing a 16-page magazine that will run in the Sunday, June 25 Herald News.  The pages are full of stories and pictures that chronicle our  100-years of faith, education and tradition in Joliet.  If you don’t get the Herald News, we’ll have additional copies  available at the Homecoming Fest or the rectory office.  Here’s a little sneak peek of the cover.  The blue is all of the last names of our Founding Families.

You gotta meet Miss Jamie and Istvan.
 We’ve booked a   couple of great kids’ acts for the Homecoming Fest.  Miss  Jamie’s Farm is  performing late Saturday  afternoon.  She is so much more  than a moo moo here and a moo moo there performer.  Kids are going to love her!  And Istvan is bringing his imaginary band for a Sunday afternoon performance.   Earworms  guaranteed.

Fr. Brad’s goal is that this event is something kids remember as a special part of their childhood...and our Kids’  Games, Entertainment and Activities  crew has outdone themselves.  In addition to Jamie and Istvan, we’ll have magicians and jugglers each day, games (with fun prizes!), jumpies, an obstacle jumpie with timed races, a lip synch contest and   karaoke. All free. for kids age 14 and younger.  And no entry fee either!

Thanks to all who are working so hard to get put this event together.  AMAZING effort!

Eileen Hooks Gutierrez
Director of Development and Project Liaison 815-722-6653, ext. 242

P.S. In rereading this I see why I love my job...quite the variety of work! Never know if it’s a hard hat or a party hat day!



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