In the late 1980s, a television news photographer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania had a prodfound conversion to the Catholic faith. The Virgin Mary touched the heart of Thomas Rutkoski and he created Gospa Missions to help foster conversions in others. He also led pilgrimages to Medjugorje in Croatia and hundreds of people went on to have conversions to the faith as Tom has. He went on to write books and create an organization called Abode for Children. Two schools with orphanages were established through Abode for Children and today well over a thousand children have a warm, comfortable place to live, to be fed and education.
Twenty-seven years ago, Gospa Missions purchased a 110-year old building in Evans City, Pennsylvania that currently houses a Catholic religious goods store and offices for both Gospa Missions and Abode for Children.
Tom spent years renovating, rebuilding and preparing for the future. Now we need to finish what he started. We are blessed to have a building with an upstairs ballroom and a place for a future chapel. Tom’s vision was to have the ballroom turned into a usable space for conferences and retreats. That is now one of our goals for Our Lady’s building.
Pope Benedict XVI said we will have a smaller church in
the future: “She (the Church) will no longer be able to inhabit
many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, she will lose many of her social privileges.”
Seeing this happening, we believe Gospa Missions will become, in the near future, an oasis and a place of refuge for faithful Catholics.
In Phase One, we need to replace the roof of the build- ing, as well as the cornices, soffits, gutters and downspouts, along with sealing up the exterior walls to stop water and animals from damaging our Lady’s building further.
The final part of Phase One is to complete the interior of the chapel, install its exterior doors and place the handi cap ramps to the chapel and the main floor.
Phase Two will consist of building an elevator for handicap access to the third-floor ballroom, which will be made into our new conference/retreat center. The center will also feature commercial-grade restrooms and a caterer’s kitchen, plus require heating and air conditioning for the comfort of attendees. For safety, we will also install a fire escape.
We know our goals are lofty, but with God, all things are possible (Mt 19:26).
Our Current Situation
The site that Gospa Missions currently occupies is that of the Glenn Building, erected around 1903, in Evans City, PA. When Tom Rutkoski purchased the building in 1997, it required a great deal of work to transform the place from a restaurant and shop into offices and a storefront for his ministries. Further work on the upper floors would come later, but not much later, as the apartments would be useful for other offices, visiting speakers and some necessary resident employees. Plus, the third floor had a large ballroom where a former social club had held dances, which Tom envisioned turning into a conference center someday.
A good deal of energy and funds were focused on making the inside useful and profitable. Some of the crew worked on the facade, such asremoving the pink stucco over the brickwork and improving the steps. Additional funds went to bringing the property up to code.
However, nothing lasts forever in this world and we find ourselves once more needing many repairs and upgrades. As you can see in the photos below, the Gospa Missions building has suffered significant water damage from broken gutters and downspouts. Water also seeped in through the old roof, the rotting cornices and eroding mortar in the brickwork. We cannot really wait any longer without risking even more damage to the property.
All the photos above relate to years of water damage. Despite repairs to the gutters, downspouts and roof, none have been lasting, partly because we could not spare the funds. The situation is now becoming desperate. The mortar between the bricks is crumbling and falling out, causing rainwater to seep into the inner walls. Leaks in the roof that were only patched have also allowed damage to ceilings and doors.
We need complete replacements of the inadequate drainage materials and an entire new roof.
In addition, the entryways need upgraded to provide ramps to make the building more accessible. We will execute the repairs and remodeling in two stages.
Repair, Replace, Complete
— replace the roof, cornices, soffits, gutters and downspouts, as well as repair the broken brickwork.
This should stop water leaking into the building and prevent bird, insect and animal infestation.
— complete the interior of the Holy Family Chapel, install the exterior doors, and
— add ramps to the chapel and main floor of the building to facilitate handicap accessibility.
Accessibility, Functionality, Comfort
— transform the third-floor ballroom into a conference center — install an elevator and a fire escape
— add restrooms and caterer’s kitchen
— expand heating & air conditioning to include the conference
The estimated cost breakdown of this project, Phases 1 is as follows:
|Chapel and Receiving area||
|Cornice work around top perimeter of building||
|Roof for main building structure||
|Mortar Restoration of main building structure||
|Concrete work including ramp and stairs||
We at Gospa Missions and Abode for Children are dedicated to helping change people’s lives for the better. Part of that means having a functional place in which to serve them and out of which we can serve. We invite you to join us in this work of evangelization, to the glory of God and the Blessed Mother, by making a donation towards our repairs and remodeling.
If you prefer, you can also mail a donation to Gospa Missions, 230 E. Main St., Evans City, PA 16033 or contact Chris Reynolds at firstname.lastname@example.org, in the Gospa Missions office at 724-538-3171.
May God reward your generosity and commitment to His work!