One visits the offices by walking down a long sandstone walk boarded by flowers and azalea bushes that bloom beautifully in the spring. Steps lead up to the arched front door of the rectory. When I first arrived at the parish, the steel screen door was terribly rusted and a host of assorted and abandoned call boxes decorated the door frame. One of my first official acts concerning the rectory was to clean this area up and make the house more inviting.
Everything electronic save for the doorbell was removed. The thick, heavy wooden door was removed, sanded, stained, its hardware cleaned, and rehung. Flags were hung on either side of the door; one the flag of the United States, the other the Vatican flag. A priest friend who is did not approve of this touch looked at the Vatican flag and snidely comment, “What? Is the pope in residence?” “No,” I responded dryly, “and neither is the president of the United States.” It also makes a great marker when telling the pizza delivery guy where to drop off the pizzas.
Finding a new quality screen door was going to prove to be more difficult. A shop was found that made special order screen doors. The dimension were given to the man behind the counter immediately surmised, “So, you must live in West Akron. We get a lot of strange doors from that part of town.” Unfortunately the price he quoted was far too high to justify. So were the doors we found through online sites. Strangely enough, after making such a big fuss about the project, a good quality door was found at the local hardware store for a reasonable price.
The font entry was now ready. The grounds crew had planted giant pots of flowers on either side of the door below the flags, and, at my sister’s insistence, geraniums bloomed from the cement planter at the second floor window over the door while verdant vines hung down softening the ornate stone arches.
Just past that front door one finds himself in a small reception hall with a barreled ceiling with a dark, slightly ornate lighting fixture hanging from it. This is the original office area and would be the first area indoors to experience my meddling. Here, a picture of the pope, the bishop, the former pastor, and a composite of all the former parochial vicars were hung. It was an act that felt a little exhilarating and, to be quite frank, a little sacrilegious to move the former pastor’s portrait over to where the former pastors were hung and replace the vacated space with my own image. Finishing the job I winced at seeing my picture. I have spent the rest of my time here studiously avoiding looking at it, the only time it requiring my attention is when a pope or a bishop changes.
To the right, the former pastor’s office, was now the office of the parish secretary and with her the parish records, various forms and envelopes and stationary of all kinds, an anachronistic typewriter, FAX machine, office supplies, mailboxes, and in general, anything that would not fit anywhere else. Across the hall in what was the secretary’s office was now inhabited by the copy machine, copy paper, stapler, cutting board and all things copy machine related.
It was announced that monies had been set aside in the previous year’s budget (before I arrived) to put drop ceilings in these rooms and that the workmen would be arriving within a week. I probably overreacted but my abhorrence was real. There are a few materials in modern architecture that I detest more than drop ceilings. “Somebody call them immediately and tell them not to come! Don’t let them anywhere near this house! There will be no drop ceilings!” I needn’t have been so dramatic. They just shrugged and said, “Okay.”