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 Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, WisconsinFebruary 28, 2003 Issue 

Helping parishes to build House of the Lord

When it's time for a new church, diocese has answers

Fifth in a series on Bishop's Appeal

photo of diocesan staff and Penny Dart in front of new St. Matthew church in Allouez
CHURCH WORK: Diann Wimmer, Cindi Brawner, Kevin Brunner, Mark Mogilka and Penny Dart, business administrator at St. Matthew Parish in Allouez, check on progress for the parish's new church, which is to be dedicated on May 3. (Rick Evans photo)

Building updates

Several parishes in the Green Bay Diocese are building or planning to build. Here is an update:

• St. Matthew Parish, Allouez, will dedicate its new church on May 3, said Penny Dart, parish business administrator. The $3.2 million project includes a 750-seat church, school remodeling and renovation of the old church into the gym it was designed to be. The new church includes worship and gathering space and a day chapel.

• St. Pius X Parish, Appleton, plans a $3.2 million addition to the church and school. Construction is scheduled to begin this spring. It will include a Eucharistic chapel, expansion to accommodate meetings and religious education classes, a fellowship hall, a gym, new art and music rooms, office space and a renovated library and media center.

• St. John Parish, Little Chute, expects to let out construction drawings for bid by March 1 for its $3.2 million renovation, said Dale Vande Hey, business administrator. A wing will be added to the church's west side for worship, increasing seating by 225. The open space between the school and church will be enclosed as a gathering space and for meetings.

• St. Margaret Mary, Neenah, will dedicate its $3.3 million renovated church on Palm Sunday, April 12, said Fr. David Koch, pastor. It includes a reconfiguration of the worship space and an addition that includes a gathering space, perpetual adoration chapel and meeting rooms.

• St. Benedict Parish, Suamico, is constructing a $600,000 enrichment center, said Fr. Gary Dantinne, pastor. It includes a small gathering area, four classrooms and a religious education office.

• St. Mary Magdalene, Waupaca, will dedicate the worship space in the new church on May 28, said Len Brasch, finance committee chairman. The project includes offices and classrooms. Future plans call for a parish hall, meeting rooms and a library. When complete, Brasch said, the complex will total 46,000-square-feet and cost nearly $7 million. The new church is east of Waupaca on 72 acres just off Highway 10.

Editor's note: The annual Bishop's Appeal supports numerous services to help parishes, individuals and families. One of these is a consulting service to parishes planning new or renovated churches or other structures through the cooperative efforts of several departments.

By Joanne Flemming
Compass Correspondent

When a family decides to build a house, it must go through numerous steps between idea and moving in -- and they often may feel all alone in going about it.

Stepping Together in Faith logo
Stepping Together in Faith
2003 Bishop's Appeal

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The process is even more complicated when a parish family decides to build a new house of worship. But, thanks to the annual Bishop's Appeal, a team of consultants at the Green Bay Diocese is there to help with questions about need, fund-raising, design and other issues.

Where to begin? Kevin Brunner, diocesan director of facilities and properties, said every project needs to start with a collaborative parish process, not just a small group of people making plans.

That includes asking parishioners "what they like about the parish and what could be changed," said Cindi Brawner, diocesan director of development. Diocesan policies require major construction projects to be discussed at a parish meeting and then approved by the parish council.

Numerous matters need attention before work can begin, the consultants say. That's why two or three years before construction begins parishes are advised to discuss the project and issues affecting it with diocesan consultants, including Brunner, Brawner and Diann Wimmer, director of worship.

Questions that need to be resolved before work begins include:

• The Future -- How might a parish be affected by mergers and consolidations? Will a neighboring parishes support any project it undertakes?

• Size -- What will be the seating capacity of a new or renovated church? Because of the priest shortage and the elimination of some weekend Masses, there is a trend toward larger congregations. A new church should have a minimal seating of 700, Brunner said, and one parking space for every 2.5 seats.

• Design -- Liturgically, the most important consideration is the configuration of the worship space, that is, what is done with the people and the pews, Wimmer said. That includes "the area with the altar, the ambo and the people, the whole area where we conduct our liturgy, our Mass, our sacraments," as well as the gathering space.

How the parish prays will dictate that configuration. For example, if the church is long and narrow, the people only want to watch and leave. If they gather around the altar, they want "to be part of the celebration," Wimmer said.

The consultants are there to remind parishes about often overlooked details that make the building more inviting, Wimmer said, such as coat racks and storage space, the music area, the placement of art, an outside area for the lighting of the fire for the Easter Vigil and landscaping for the parking lot.

The day a parish is "able to actually voice (its) needs and explain how (it) gathers and how (it) prays, that's the day they can make a good building, one that will serve them well," Wimmer said.

Bp. Robert Banks has established guidelines for building and/or renovating worship space, said Wimmer, who advises hiring liturgical consultants to help with the design.

• Fund-raising -- Besides reaching a consensus on a project, a parish should ask if it's the right time to undertake it, Brawner said. It also should decide if it wants to do fund raising itself or hire an outside consultant. Generally, she said, a consultant is hired for a project of more than $1 million. (Before construction can begin on any project under $1 million, a parish must have raised 50% of the funds in cash or pledges; for one over $1 million, it needs 75% of its funds in cash and pledges.)

Brawner tells parishes to begin their financial planning for construction projects by working to increase their annual offertory collections. "There is a direct correlation between that and how much you can raise in a capital campaign," she said. A basic fund-raising formula for a building campaign is 2.5-3 times the regular collection.

Bishop's Appeal

What: Bishop's Appeal, the Green Bay Diocese's annual fund-raiser to support diocesan programs and services offered to parishes and individuals.

Where: All parishes in the diocese.

When: Right now.

How: Making a cash, check, credit card (Mastercard, Visa and Discover) or pledge donation. Materials have been sent to homes and also are available through parishes. Some employers offer matching gift programs, for which Catholic Charities may qualify, since it serves the general public; additional information is available through Human Resources departments.

Theme: Stepping Together in Faith.

Target: $4.8 million.

Because a capital campaign is "labor-intensive," a parish must decide if staff or volunteers will handle it, she said. During a campaign, she tells volunteers not to be ashamed to ask for money. "You are not asking for yourself; you are asking to do God's work."

• Rest of Process -- Once a parish has made plans, it must present them for approval to the diocese's board of consultors, which includes Bp. Banks, Bp. Robert Morneau, Msgr. John DeWane (vicar general) and nine other priests.

The consultors review site and elevation plans, floor plans and financial plans to see if they meet the congregation's physical, spiritual and pastoral needs. The project also must meet state statues. Before work on the building can begin, Brunner must review all architectural and construction contracts.

The diocese has scheduled a workshop for pastors, parish directors, trustees, business administrators, worship and building committee members in parishes considering building a new church or renovating an existing facility. It will be from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, March 28, at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, De Pere.

Speakers and their topics will include:

• Mark Mogilka, pastoral services director, on Parish Pastoral Planning-Moving from an Idea to a Concrete Plan.

• Kevin Brunner, facilities/properties director, on Diocesan Review of Parish Building Projects and Architects, Design and Development, Construction Contracts and Builders.

• Diann Wimmer, director of worship, on Directives for the Worship Space and the Role of the Liturgical Consultant.

• Tom Kurkowski, finance director, Financial Planning for Construction Projects.

• Cindi Brawner, director of development, on Fund Raising.

The registration deadline is March 20. The fee is $10 per person. Payment can be mailed to: Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, Leah Harad, P.O. Box 1506, Green Bay, WI 54305-1506. For more information phone (920)437-7531 or 1-877-500-3580 (toll-free), ext. 8314.

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