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
|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)
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
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
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
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
2003 Bishop's Appeal
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
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
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
The Future -- How might a parish be affected by mergers
and consolidations? Will a neighboring parishes support any project
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
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
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
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
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
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
Cindi Brawner, director of development, on Fund
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.