Thursday, 20 January 2011 14:54
By Christopher M. Riggs
The recently completed $2.8 million building project at St. Joseph Parish, McPherson, is a testament to the people of the parish, according to their pastor, Father David Lies.
“They wanted to have a place where their relationship with God and with one another can continue to grow and where we can continue to try to grow in our stewardship spirit and in service of one another,” he said. “I’m proud about the resources they shared and the support they gave me as their pastor through this process. I feel really blessed to be here as the pastor at this time in the history of the parish.”
Father Lies said the parishioners were proud of the project and he was edified that even through these lean economic times the parish hasn’t seen much of a drop in pledge response.
St. Joseph’s officially broke ground on March 1, 2010, after about four years of planning. When he arrived in 2006, Father Lies continued working with the parish in planning the project, through a feasibility study, and through a capital campaign in which parishioners pledged $1.2 million towards the project. An additional grant from the McPherson Mingenback Foundation contributed $300,000. The parish borrowed the difference from the Diocese of Wichita.
Construction job superintendent Terry L. Winn, from the Law Company, partnering with project manager Dan Alcala, ended his last full day at the site on Jan. 8. Bishop Michael O. Jackels dedicated and blessed the work on Wednesday, Jan. 19.
The project involved new construction and renovation of existing spaces. About nine months ago, parish office staff moved out of their existing offices for a renovation and expansion into space formerly occupied by the old rectory apartment. Construction workers added a teacher workroom and mailroom, and a family room accessible from the church’s gathering space, which will serve families at weddings and funerals.
In addition, the parish hall was remodeled and is dedicated exclusively to social gatherings. It features a large chandelier in the center of a lowered ceiling. It is a much more inviting atmosphere for the parish, Father Lies said, and is also being used by the McPherson community.
The project also included a bell tower at the front corner of the church that includes a small adoration chapel. It was completed just before the new year. The chapel, which includes a restroom, will seat about 12 people comfortably. Eucharistic adoration began on Jan. 19 after the chapel was blessed and the Eucharist was transferred to the new chapel.
The bell tower is about 50 feet tall and houses a bell from the original church which was located in downtown McPherson. The tower has a mechanical striker which was the result of Paul Burghart, a parishioner and scout, who installed the striker as an Eagle Scout project. A new wing of classrooms, a lunch and commons area, and a new gymnasium rounded out the expansion.
The project serves as a final testament to the creativity of McPherson architect Andy Steffes, who died unexpectedly during the design phase of the project. His work and its spirit was ably continued by Bob Faires of Howard & Helmer Architects of Wichita.
“Overall, for me, it was a positive experience,” Father Lies said, adding that he relied heavily on the input and assistance of St. Joseph school principal Peggy Bahr. “She gave some invaluable insights, in particular with the school side of the project. She also had a great eye for detail and knew what questions to ask.”
Fr. Lies said he’s heard a lot of very positive responses overall. “People are very inspired by the bell tower and by having a dedicated adoration chapel.”
He is also pastor of nearby St. Bridget of Sweden, Lindsborg.