- Why is the Diocese of Lake Charles purchasing a new chancery building?
There are several reasons the diocese is pursuing a new chancery building. First, this is the most cost-effective option. Second, a centralized office that consolidates everyone has long been a goal for the diocese – one pursued in some way by every bishop since our inception in 1980. That it is happening now is a combination of factors that include the availability of an ideal building at a good price and the financial prudence of purchasing this building when compared to repairing or replacing existing structures.
- Why is the Diocese of Lake Charles consolidating?
Currently, at least 35 administrative staff members work from five locations across the diocese. Some diocesan functions operate from leased space – a monthly cost that will cease to exist with a new chancery space. Two offices currently operate from space borrowed from Saint Charles Center and Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church, taking up precious resources in both of those places. Naturally, this separation creates inefficiencies in our work – from addressing our churches' and organizations’ needs in a timely manner to costs associated with employee travel from place to place. A central office will reduce or eliminate these issues, as well as provide additional benefits to our diocesan faithful.
- Is this a good financial decision?
Yes, it is the most cost-effective option. Existing diocesan administrative facilities remain in disrepair since the 2020 hurricanes. This is due to the estimated cost of at least $6 million that would be required to address the damage and provide for current needs. Replacement, too, was a non-starter due to an estimated cost of at least $15 million for new construction.
The new building – the former site of the Safety Council of Southwest Louisiana – is in good shape. Our negotiated purchase price and the cost of minor work to adapt the space to our needs will cost about $3.3 million. This is a savings of at least 75% versus replacing those existing buildings! This new chancery also provides benefits like three times the square footage of our other buildings combined, centralized office efficiencies, and new meeting spaces available to our diocesan organizations.
In addition to the aforementioned benefits, this new chancery opens up opportunities for new future revenue streams. We look forward to this project contributing to the long-term financial stability of our diocese.
- Where is the new chancery building?
The Diocese of Lake Charles’ new chancery building will be located at 1201 Ryan Street in Downtown Lake Charles. This site formerly housed the Safety Council of Southwest Louisiana.
- When will you move?
We officially closed on the building May 5, 2023. After minor renovations to adapt the space to our needs, we will move on July 1, 2023.
- What will change after the move?
The most immediate change is our new address. Our new contact information is:
1201 Ryan Street
Lake Charles, LA 70601
The PO Box and telephone number will remain the same:
PO Box 3223
Lake Charles, LA 70602-3223
We hope to deliver additional positive changes as a result of this move. These include greater efficiency in our operations, shorter response times from departments housed in the new chancery, new physical spaces for use by our diocesan faithful, and the ability to better serve you through new endeavors at the former administrative buildings, among others.
- What administrative functions will operate from the new building? Which functions will remain elsewhere?
Most diocesan administrative functions will be housed at the new chancery building. This includes:
- Office of Diocesan Administration
- Office of Catholic Schools
- Marriage, Family and Pro-Life
- Religious Education and Evangelization
- Fiscal Services
- Child and Youth Protection and Safe Environment
- Human Resources
- Clergy Immigration
Because of the nature of its ministry, Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana will continue to operate out of its own facility at 1225 Second Street in Lake Charles. Saint Charles Center and Camp Karol retreat facilities will also maintain their current locations in Moss Bluff as will the Stella Maris Seafarers Center at the Port of Lake Charles.
- How will you pay for this new building?
The Diocese has mortgaged a large portion of the total cost of the new space with finance payments covered by general operations. The remaining cost comes from funds set aside by the bishop for purposes such as this.
- No hurricane recovery funds that are allocated to rebuilding parishes or schools will be diverted to purchasing the chancery building.
- Some existing costs, such as monthly rent for the space currently occupied by the Office of Catholic Schools, will no longer exist for us. That office, in particular, will move into the new chancery. Money set aside for its lease can then be redirected toward this mortgage.
- The plans for funding this purchase are the result of the valuable support of our diocesan finance council, a volunteer group made up of nine lay professionals, two priests, and one deacon from across Southwest Louisiana. This council includes CPAs, certified financial planners and others who review and evaluate major financial and investment decisions by the Diocese of Lake Charles. The council reviewed this purchase, and they agreed that it is prudent.
- What will happen to the existing administrative buildings?
The prospects are promising for the Diocese of Lake Charles. Some of these buildings are in high-demand locations, and we have already fielded some interest in potentially leasing or selling the spaces. This would create new revenue for the Diocese that could be directed to any number of valuable projects to benefit you, the faithful.
The historic nature of the buildings and their importance in the community will be considered when looking at potential future plans. We look forward to memorializing the legacy of Bishop Harold Perry in the new location.
- My organization would like to use some of the meeting spaces available at the new chancery building. How can I do that?
We hope to provide available chancery building collaborative spaces on a first-come, first-served basis to diocesan organizations, including Catholic schools, affiliated non-profit groups and parish organizations. For more information, please call 337-439-7400 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- How will this expense and the move impact ongoing concerns like hurricane repairs throughout the diocese?
A consolidated, centralized office will streamline processes related to rebuilding and recovery – thus speeding up things like hurricane repairs for our churches and other diocesan organizations. Hurricane repairs throughout the diocese will be handled more efficiently. In fact, no hurricane recovery money that is allocated for parish or school rebuilding will be used in purchasing this building.
- What will occur with the Masses currently being offered at the Deaf Center?
Masses will continue to be said at the Deaf Center. We do not see at present any need to relocate the community. Any plans for the relocation of Masses at the Deaf Center will be made in consultation with the community and their chaplain, Fr. Aubrey Guilbeau.
- I have an idea for repurposing the former administrative buildings. Where can I share my input?
We welcome input from the diocesan faithful regarding the future of these buildings! Please direct your suggestions to Fr. Joseph Caraway, Vice-Chancellor at 337-439-7400 or fill out the form located by clicking here!
- Will there be an open house for the public?
An open house for the public is scheduled for Saturday, September 16, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. We look forward to welcoming you for a visit to our new location.
New Chancery Pictures