Facilities director elected to national board

BOSTON — Peter Silva, director of Facilities Management for the Archdiocese of Boston, was recently elected to a three-year term on the board of directors of the Conference of Catholic Facilities Management.

Silva, who has worked for the archdiocese for 11 years and attended annual CCFM conferences for six years, said that the members of CCFM benefit from a collective experience.

“The whole purpose is to share information of a very unique business,” he said, adding that he hopes to expand the number of dioceses involved.

“We always tell our contractors that there’s business-business and Church-business, and we expect them to know the difference,” he added. “When you do work for the archdiocese, you realize that there’s a Mass in the morning, so our contractors know they knock off during the morning Mass. They also know that they have to knock off some days that there’s a funeral, and you don’t encounter that in any other business.”

The conference started in California 16 years ago and holds annual meetings. According to their Web site, CCFM is “a Catholic forum and network for professionals whose responsibilities include real estate, construction, property management, and real properties.” The nine members of the board of directors serve three-year terms. Silva began his service last month.

Silva has also been appointed to both CCFM’s development and education committees. The development committee seeks to reach out to those who have not yet joined the conference while the education committee is in charge of holding seminars on anything from Canon law to the mitigation of mold, he said.

Other committees and boards exist for other specific topics, and a committee was appointed last year to deal with churches affected by hurricane Katrina. Different regions face different problems, and that is why Silva hopes to institute regional meetings each year, he said.

A New England meeting was held in Boston three years ago and covered topics that are common issues faced in the area.

“The Northeast area has different problems than the Midwest,” he said. “Some of your southern states have very high groundwater. They don’t build basements, so they don’t encounter the same issues we do in the Northeast where we build a lot of basements.”

Churches in San Francisco have to worry about earthquakes, and different areas use different building materials, he added.

Not only is the conference a great resource for Silva to find out how others handle the problems they encounter, but many other dioceses have sought advice from Boston.

“We constantly get questions on reconfiguration and downsizing parishes,” he said.

Many other dioceses are starting to confront the same issues faced in Boston — like fewer priests, demographic changes and older buildings. These result in parish closings, and those dioceses want to know how to inventory sacramental goods and what to do with stained glass windows, he said.

“They’re looking to us to see how we resolve the problems here in Boston so that they have a guideline or framework,” he said.

Working with other parishes adds to the work he does in Boston. The Facilities Management Department is in charge of all construction, renovation and major maintenance efforts for the 1,800 buildings in the archdiocese, said Silva.

The Facilities Management Department handles the repair of air conditioners at the chancery as well as managing multi-million dollar projects. It oversees repair work at parishes when the boiler breaks or the roof needs replacing, he added.

“Our role here is to provide a service to the pastors and administrators and to assist them in maintaining the church buildings,” he said.