We all know that love of neighbor is core to what it means to be a Christian, second only to the command You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. (Matt 22:37-40). We at St. Juan Diego Catholic Church have an immediate way of putting this into practice, now that we will have “bricks & mortar” parish with actual, approximate neighbors along the perimeter of our property.
In some ways, their lives are being disrupted more than ours by this process with noise, traffic and dust. I have received numerous phone calls and emails with questions, concerns and curiosity. They are all very friendly. But for some, they have lost their shade, their quiet forested “backyard”, and – for kids – a playground. Though there has been some problematic activity on the property over the years such as dumping of trash and yard debris, the property has also had an important role for many children growing up in the area. Many, like Mary Johnson’s son, Tim, when he was little, thought it was “his” forest.
The response I hear most from neighbors is that they will miss the forest, but they much prefer a church to the multiple-unit apartments for which the area is zoned. One neighbor told me that she has not heard a single disparaging remark about our project. Another said about the noise: “No big deal. That’s just part of construction.”
Dave Kirk, of The Grant Company (our contractors) is the Site Superintendent and is a very friendly guy who has made himself very available to the neighbors. They have been following our progress with great interest. We had not considered that so much when we started planning our building blog on the web, which Bridget Becker is capably managing for us (see the link from our parish website: www.stjuandiego.org). But the neighbors refer to it frequently. One can even be notified automatically by email when there is an update.
So as we build and, in a year’s time, move in, we will want to be mindful of our new neighbors and how they are accommodating us. Again, they are intrigued and welcoming. May we build strong, friendly relationships with them for years to come.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. John Kerns