Win-win

| October 12, 2011 | 0 Comments

St. Bridget estate sale a positive event for everyone

Estate Sale

Mary Plant, a member of St. Bridget in Minneapolis, looks over a table of religous items for sale during the St. Bridget’s Convent estate sale Oct. 7. Dianne Towalski / The Catholic Spirit

What do you get when you toss together an estate sale, a former convent and 55 kindergartners?

Success.

“The estate sale [Oct. 7-8] was a success on any number of levels,” said Franciscan Father Anthony Cris­citelli, pastor of St. Bridget in north Minneapolis. “It’s been a win-win all around.”

When the Third Order Regular of St. Francis friars, who had lived in the former St. Bridget’s convent building since 1977, moved from there into the parish rectory in 2010, St. Bridget no longer needed to use the building. At the same time, the public charter school that rents the parish school building was interested in renting more space.

So, St. Bridget renovated the first floor of the old convent and, in the process, needed to clear out the clutter left behind by the sisters and friars.

“First and foremost, we were able to part with a number of the big items — furniture, appliances, kit­chen wares, beds, dressers and desks and washers and dryers,” Father Criscitelli said.

That led to financial success: $6,000, of which a small part will go to the Franciscan community, which owned some of the items. The rest will go toward a renovation of the school kitchen, which also is used for parish funeral lunches, dinners and community events, he said.

Getting to know you

“One other level of success is we got to know some of our neighbors, who we don’t see, but they live in the neighborhood and are curious about St. Bridget,” the pastor said.

Also, people who used to go to St. Bridget parish or school returned and shared stories about taking music lessons from one of the sisters or being invited into the convent. (St. Bridget School closed in 1995 when it merg­ed with St. Elizabeth Seton School, which closed in 2009.)

“It was very nice on that level to get to know people who were once upon a time connected to the parish and still have some affection for it,” he said.

And, for Julie Guy, director of Sojourner Truth Academy, who welcomed the kindergarteners into their new space Oct. 10, the convent provides much needed space.

“We are so excited to get this additional building,” she said. “We’ve been talking about it and working on it for years.”

The school, which was founded in 1999 in the St. Bridget school building, has 350 students and 60 staff members, which includes 27 licensed teachers.

“Over the years, we have grown out of this building, but we have such a great relationship with St. Bridget’s that we want to stay here. This is our home now,” Guy said. “We have developed personal relationships with the staff at St. Bridget. . . . Parishioners come and help at our family events, which we have at least once a month. . . . They have always been a great resource for us. If we need something, they help us fill that need.”

Guy was also able to purchase many items for the school at a reduced rate before the estate sale opened to the community, thanks to the generosity of Father Criscitelli, she said.

“We were able to acquire some teacher desks and chairs, a lot of maintenance supplies — brooms, screwdrivers and things like that — and fans and air conditioners,” she said. “Of course, I had to shop over there.”

Guy personally purchased a desk and bookcase and a “beautiful Nativity set,” she said. “My husband said to Brother David [Liedl], ‘I guess you guys saw her coming.’”

Father Criscitelli said the remaining items from the estate sale were to be donated to the Bridge, which helps immigrant families acclimate to life in the area and settle into a home.

Guy said that Sojourner Truth Academy would also like to open a preschool center in the old convent building. When she asked Father Criscitelli when the parish could start to renovate the second floor, he told her, “as soon as we pay for the first floor.”

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