St. John, Little Chute, plans major expansion
Fox Valley parish conducting fund-raising campaign for renovation
By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor
The church renovation committee at St. John Nepomucene Parish, Little Chute, has launched "Rise Up and Build," a fund-raising campaign for the $3.5 million first phase of its church renovation project.
Highlighting Phase I will be an addition to the church, a new commons area, new bathroom facilities, space for meetings and funeral luncheons, multipurpose space for use by the school, religious education and parish groups, redesigned areas for the parish food pantry and music ministry, expanded kitchen facilities, additional storage space and air conditioning.
The committee originally planned on moving forward with the entire renovation project at a one-time cost of approximately $7 million, but chose to shift the project into two phases in response to long-term debt concerns voiced in parish meetings, phone surveys and written surveys.
"Dividing it into phases represents a nice solution to everything," said Mike Van Asten, chairman of the renovation committee. "We decided to address the most identifiable needs in the first phase at a reasonable price."
The layout of the existing church will change. A wing will be added to the west side to increase seating and improve handicapped accessibility. The altar will be moved forward in view of the west wing seating. The current, straight-row seating will be angled toward the center of the new altar.
Phase I is part of an overall master plan developed by the renovation committee. Phase II includes provisions for the purchase of nearby properties for future additions including an east wing addition to the church, a traditional gathering space and a carport.
There is no target date to begin Phase I construction. The parish must raise 75% of the funds to begin building, said Van Asten. The goal is to raise the $3.5 million in cash in pledges within a three-year period."
"If everything fell into place, it's conceivable that we could have a groundbreaking in late spring," said Van Asten. "Our main focus right now is fund raising."
The renovation committee has provided displays in the back of church and special bulletin wraps to keep parish members informed of the progress of the building project. On Monday, the first of eight gatherings was held to provide information, answer questions and hand out packets and pledge cards.
"Parish members were invited to attend one of the eight sessions," said Van Asten. "We hope that when people hear the message about the importance of this building project they will make some kind of spiritual and financial contribution."
The renovation project marks the first at the parish since 1964 when a $75,000 church entrance project was completed.
"All of us at St. John's are excited about the improvements that will be made in our church and parish facilities, some of which are long overdue," said Msgr. James Vanden Hogen, pastor. "We hope everyone will consider both the current and future benefits the renovation project will provide when they make their own personal decision on how much they can contribute to the project. With everyone's spiritual and financial support, we know the project will be a success."