Family gives rectory new look - Catholic Courier

Family gives rectory new look

CORNING — It’s a safe bet that in the long history of St. Mary Rectory, no previous occupants felt compelled to install a swing set.

A large set now occupies the front lawn. Visitors should expect to be greeted at the front door by at least a couple of inquisitive kids. Toys, games and children’s books fill several of the stately building’s rooms. How’s that for a home makeover-show story line?

The rectory, located at 155 State St., became more kid-friendly over the summer when Deacon Dean Condon, 44, began as pastoral administrator for All Saints Parish. He arrived in town with a sizable entourage: wife Janet, 42, and their six children, Joshua, 14; David, 13; Paul, 10; Timothy, 7; Rachel, 5; and Daniel, 10 months.

Deacon Condon had spent the previous 11 years as pastoral administrator of Guardian Angels Parish in Henrietta. He said that while weighing the Corning opening, a top priority was to find a home that would be suited to his ministry and also accommodate his sizable brood. Among the leading possibilities were the rectories at St. Mary and St. Vincent de Paul, both in Corning.

However, the parish offices were already housed at St. Vincent, and both of All Saints’ sacramental ministers, Fathers Phil Billotte and Mark Miller, were living at St. Mary. But the priests were sympathetic to the family’s plight and agreed to relocate to Immaculate Heart of Mary in Painted Post. In late July the Condons moved into the rectory, which is connected to St. Mary Church.

Deacon Condon acknowledged that some parishioners have been slow to accept the idea of anybody other than clergy occupying that space. Yet he said overall sentiment has been very positive, as evidenced by the 30 to 40 people who helped the family move in.

“People have been really nice to us here,” Janet said.

She and her husband added that church members have expressed how they enjoy passing the rectory at night and seeing lights on in so many rooms.

“A lot of people say ‘you bring life to it, literally,'” Deacon Condon said.

The St. Mary building measures 10,000 square feet, about twice the size of the Condons’ previous residence on the Guardian Angels campus. That’s a major plus because the family grew from two to six children during Deacon Condon’s tenure there. He was one of the first pastoral administrators in the Rochester Diocese, having begun at Guardian Angels in suburban Rochester in 1995. He was ordained to the permanent diaconate in 2001.

At All Saints, Deacon Condon replaces Sister Joan Cawley, SSJ. She was the first non-priest administrator in parish history, overseeing the churches from 2000 to 2006. All Saints consists of three worship sites: St. Mary, St. Vincent de Paul and Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Despite now having to keep track of three churches rather than one, Deacon Condon said the rectory setting allows him to be home regularly for family dinners as well as for occasional lunches. Janet is firmly anchored at the rectory, continuing in her longtime role as homeschool instructor for the children.

The Condons said they hope to become more active in the parish community; for example, they were highly involved in music ministry at Guardian Angels. But for the time being, the challenge of settling into their new home still takes precedence, with several rooms still in various stages of being furnished. There also has been the matter of childproofing, especially with some valuable items belonging to the parish.

“We took a lot of breakables and put them up in the attic,” Deacon Condon said with a laugh.

At least one existing feature has come in handy: “The dinner bell is the best,” Janet commented as her husband tested it out. Within seconds, children began appearing with puzzled expressions; it was only early afternoon.

“I’m sorry, it was just a demonstration,” their dad said.

Deacon Condon and his wife said their kids have adjusted fairly well to the move, though Janet observed that Joshua, the oldest, has been a bit slow to come around: “He’s not big on change in general.” However, Joshua still gets driven back to Rochester on weekends to continue his piano and organ studies at the Eastman School of Music. And, he seems to be enjoying his new habitat.

“It’s nice to have my own bathroom,” he said, adding that during off hours he often practices his organ lessons on St. Mary’s organ.

Joshua and Rachel also get a kick out of the long, dingy basement that runs under the church and is filled with folding tables, chairs, paint cans, rocks and other miscellany.

“We turn off all the lights and play ‘Ghost in the Graveyard,'” Joshua said.

With 14 to 17 rooms — Deacon Condon and his wife still aren’t sure of the exact count — the rectory as a whole is an explorer’s paradise for the kids.

“They play hide and seek — and really hide,” Deacon Condon remarked.

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