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Making the Move

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Jul 22, 2010

I’m moving on Monday, out of the countryside, and into town. It’s time, and the transition marks not only a personal step but another step in the history of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org.

Twenty-five years ago, in the year when our non-profit Trinity Communications was born, we purchased a reasonably-sized home to raise our four children plus however many more would come (two more, as it turned out). During the years in that house, Trinity Communications, which had begun in print publishing, fell on very hard times, and I took up computer consulting to make ends meet. Ultimately I started a for-profit corporation called Trinity Consulting, which fortunately brought in enough revenue to ease the pain. In 1994, we reinvented the non-profit as a low-overhead internet apostolate, launching the pre-web Catholic Resource Network. Then, in 1996 we opened our first web site, PetersNet, and collaborated with Phil Lawler in launching the new Catholic World News service.

By 2001, Trinity Consulting had outgrown my converted one-car garage, so in 2002 we moved into a larger place in the country, with a 2,000 square foot basement for the company. Over the next few years there was enough income to give to Trinity Communications to convert PetersNet to the larger Catholic web site we have today, CatholicCulture.org, as well as to host and ultimately purchase Catholic World News, which was running out of subscription revenue. For a time we ran the two web sites separately, but we finally merged Catholic World News into CatholicCulture.org in 2008. Phil Lawler remained in charge of the news as well as becoming a key commentator on CatholicCulture.org.

All of this happened in our biggish house in the country, on ten wooded acres to escape zoning restrictions on the businesses. We still had seven family members living at home in 2002, including my aging mother, who was suffering from dementia. Over the next eight years, Trinity Consulting continued to grow but family members moved on. My mother died, my two daughters got married, my second youngest son went off to college and ultimately moved into his own apartment, and only my youngest son is still with us, a junior in college. As the family members moved out, our consultants expanded out of the basement and took over the first floor master bedroom, our living room, and an upstairs bedroom—and sometimes the dining room, for meetings. Meanwhile, the additional revenue enabled me to gradually spend more and more time writing for CatholicCulture.org.

By 2008, Trinity Consulting needed even more space, and it was definitely time to move it into offices in town. That happened in April of last year, leaving Barbara and myself, and sometimes our youngest son Thomas, to occupy a home that once contained seven family members and fourteen employees. Clearly it was time to unload the big house and seek a smaller mortgage, so we readied the house for sale that Summer, put it on the market in October, and finally sold it in June of this year. This was, however, an example of plans gone awry. I expected there to be enough space for everybody until I retired. We never expected to have to sell this house in a dead market!

Also in 2009, our consulting team matured to the point that my son Peter was ready to take over as CEO of Trinity Consulting, and there were better people in every position to do the programming and proposal work that I used to do. Beginning in August, 2009, I began to devote full time to our non-profit work (CatholicCulture.org) for the first time since 1991. What an enormous breakthrough! This meant the opportunity for even more writing, including frequent In Depth Analysis pieces, an improved design for the site, and a significant improvement in customer service and email communication with our users.

By early 2010, though, the declining economy had begun to affect what other businesses could pay for the consulting and proposal services we offered through Trinity Consulting. Suddenly the company was strapped. It became necessary to implement a number of cuts, including my retirement plan, and the ability to subsidize our non-profit work was eliminated essentially overnight. The message was clear: Either CatholicCulture.org had to begin paying all of its own expenses, including my salary, or I’d have to give it up, go back to consulting full-time and, in so doing, inevitably squeeze one or more existing employees out of a job.

The big house was still on the market, and now the pressure was on to sell the house as quickly as possible. Like everyone else who is selling these days, we had to take a major loss in equity to get out from under the mortgage. Still, Monday’s move will come none too soon, as it effects a substantial reduction in overhead to have the “country house” gone. And yet a wonderful property is also gone, one that was home to countless family and business memories. Plus we must adjust to this dramatic shift from country to suburban living: Those of us left at home will have to get used to having neighbors again....

In the new place, we’ll also be cramming the sole office of Trinity Communications into a tiny third bedroom, where I hope to remain faithfully at my Catholic post despite the unending vicissitudes of life. Still, we’re excited about the move. It’s a new phase, a new place to decorate, a new sort of life to embellish. Whenever any of us has to move, isn’t that the way of it? Sorrow at parting with a treasured place that represents so much good in our lives; but excitement—if not quite yet joy—over a new start!

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  • Posted by: koinonia - Jul. 23, 2010 3:51 AM ET USA

    Congratulations and God's blessings for the future. The vicissitudes of life certainly are vicissitudinous. Our move to VA occurred at the peak of the boom. Then 08 and 09 hit. I find greenbacks in my wallet about as often as Congress gets an attaboy these days, but we continue to trust in God's providence. A large sum of money might never find its way to its proper end- my bank account- but God's love and mercy will always be welcome in our hearts and in our homes. Ad majorem Dei gloriam!

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