August 3, 2009 11:26 AM
Today marks the official reopening of the Catholic Multi-Cultural Center on Madison's South Side. The Center had been closed suddenly this spring by the Catholic Diocese because of financial strains due, at least in part, to the economy.
I wrote at the time that I thought Madisonians would rally around the center and find a way to bring it back. That's exactly what happened. Our Lady Queen of Peace parishioners, led by a truly great Madisonian Monsignor Ken Fiedler, organized a diocese-wide effort to raise money and volunteers to reopen the doors. Contributions have come in from parishes all over the region, not just the immediate Madison area. And they've come not only from Catholics - other faith congregations have also come forward to help in what has really been a community effort.
City government played a small role. We convened some meetings to help think through the problem and Alder and St. Maria Goretti parishioner Steve King led an effort to provide a small amount of city funding to help the cause.
Now, Queen of Peace parishioners are working on a plan for the long-term stability of the center, and they're looking at ways that the center can partner even better with other nonprofits in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Here's the best part. Before it closed, the center was providing free meals to anyone in need three days a week. Now, there are so many volunteers that it's possible that the meals will be expanded to five nights a week, maybe more. Madison Catholics got dealt some lemons, so they made lemonade and lots of it.
I'll go over there today and help out a little at the reopening. I won't go there to take credit for anything (to be honest, I was skeptical of the need for the city financial support) but to witness Madison at its very best. People of goodwill saw a need and acted swiftly, gracefully and intelligently to meet it. A guy can't help but love being mayor of a city like that.