JOLIET – The friary at St. John the Baptist Church in Joliet has gotten older.
And so have the five friars who currently live there. The youngest is 42, and the rest are in their 60s and 70s, said Brother Ed Arambasich, guardian.
Unfortunately, the two are not aging well together.
Here’s where you can help.
On April 7, the friars are hosting a fundraiser at the Jacob Henry Mansion in Joliet. They are raising money for repairs and updates for the friary.
“Well, the building is old, over 50 years old now,” Arambasich said. “And it’s a good building, structurally good. It’s strong – brick, stone, steel and concrete – but it hasn’t been updated in years. ... I remember when it was built. I was a little boy. It just needs some manicuring.”
The goal is to install an elevator, add a bathroom to each bedroom and create a laundry room and kitchen on the same floor as the bedrooms. This would make it easier for the friars to serve others, as well as to provide a separate living space for them, which the friars do not have at this time, Arambasich said.
“It would be nice to have a little more privacy,” Arambasich said.
Right now, the friars are working on gathering estimates for the cost of materials and labor. Arambasich hopes they raise enough for materials and then find people to donate the labor.
“I think asbestos might be a problem, too,” Arambasich said.
If all of the modifications can’t be done at once, Arambasich said, the friars will tackle them in this order: elevator, bathrooms and then an upstairs kitchen and laundry facility.
“The stairs are a killer,” Arambasich said. “We have to go down three stories to do our laundry. And the rooms are antiquated. We have sinks but no bathrooms, so we have to go all the way down the hall. That’s hard for older guys.”
An upstairs kitchen would allow the friars to have meals together, have a respite cup of coffee or simply relax without always entertaining well-meaning guests who drop in.
“Everyone is very understanding and very kind,” Arambasich said. “But we need ‘our’ time, too.”
An upstairs laundry room would eliminate having to take a load of clothes down three flights of stairs to wash it and then back up to put it away, which – again – is hard on older bodies.
Arambasich said the friars would rather spend that energy serving the community. Furthermore, better use of space means the current friars could invite more friars to live with them, which would increase their ability to minister to the community.
“The rooms themselves will stay the same,” Arambasich said. “They’re cinder block.”
In the meantime, the friars are doing their best with the resources they have.
“It’s not an ideal situation,” Arambasich said. “But that’s where we’re at.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Friary Fundraiser
WHEN: April 7. Mass is celebrated 4 p.m. at the mansion chapel. Fellowship hour begins 5 p.m. Dinner is 6 p.m., and awards are 7 p.m.
WHERE: Jacob Henry Manson, Joliet.
ETC.: Other features include a silent auction and silent dessert auction. Tickets are $65 or $650 for table of 10. Proceeds benefit repairs and updates at St. John the Baptist friary in Joliet.
INFORMATION: For reservations and information about donation gifts, call Brother Ed Arambasich at 217-316-4335.