It’s so sad. I hate seeing old, beautiful buildings torn down, but I agree that from a stewardship point of view, it’s much cheaper to maintain newer buildings.
I’m guessing that the die was cast decades ago, when the parish decided to put off fixing the roof, or repairing structural damage, or not replace the heating/cooling system–they probably felt that it was more important to use their offerings to help the poor, not realizing what this meant for their building. Who can condemn them for this? They made the decision that seemed proper at the time. And they didn’t know back then that their parish would decline in numbers and that those who remained in the parish would eventually become too old and poor to donate thousands of dollars for repairs and modernization.
I don’t think that the issue of your young age should stop you from doing the right thing. When I was in college, the old atmospheric theater in my college town was doomed to the wrecking ball. I wrote a very impassioned letter to the newspaper imploring the wealthy people and the corporations of the community to come forward and save this old, historic theater. I asked them to raise the monies and restore the building.
Well, lo and behold, they paid attention to my little letter! A community committee was formed, made up of artists, rich people, and CEOs. They toured the theater, decided that I was correct, and began work to restore it.
Today, the theater is a unique marvel–absolutely stunning, and is used for shows, concerts, movies, plays, lectures, etc.
It’s possible that if the church building is beautiful and of historic value , you could appeal to the wealthy and powerful in your community to save it.
However this approach is not necessarily what you want do to. We have an old parish in our city that the diocese rescued, and the city wanted it declared a Historic Site. But the bishop said NO! If a building is declared a historic site, the diocese no longer has control over it, and the building could be used for all kinds of activities, not necessarily Catholic. (E.g., the blasphemous play “The Last Temptation of Christ” was held in a church building in Michigan several years back. Apparently the director had an artistic “vision” that the church would be a good setting for this icky play.)
That old church building in our city is currently a perfect and beautiful setting for the TLM that is done daily and several times on Sundays by the ICK priests.
I think in your case, it’s worth a try to appeal to wealthy CATHOLICS in your diocese to save the building. Do you have a diocescan newspaper? Write a letter and plead with wealthy Catholics, CEOs, etc. to step forward and give the monies necessary to restore the building. If the building is restored and modernized and comfortable, it’s likely that it will attract people, and become a thriving parish once again.
Of course, if the bishop has already made the declaration, you are technically opposing him. However, you are young and enthusiastic, and surely can be forgiven for youthful actions like pleading with your elders to save the old building, as long as you don’t criticize the bishop! Perhaps the bishop himself will be touched by your appeal and decide to make a last-ditch effort to appeal to the wealthy Catholics!
Good luck to you.