When St. James parishioners Alan and Jeannine Hallock learned about the capital campaign at Holy Savior Parish in Wichita, their thoughts turned immediately to the Biblical story of the Widow’s Mite, a story of sacrifice.
The Hallocks thought not just about what they could do, but in turn what their fellow parishioners at St. James in Augusta could do to help Holy Savior fulfill its vision of building a new church and school.
“We aren’t a wealthy parish, but we thought it was a real opportunity to allow our parish, our parishioners to live out the gospel and have it be a spiritual experience for them,” Alan said.
With that in mind, the couple approached their pastor, Fr. Michael Schemm, and Holy Savior pastor Fr. Jim Billinger about providing a matching gift challenge. The Hallocks proposed a matching gift challenge in which the couple would match up to $25,000 for each dollar St. James parishioners would give to Holy Savior’s campaign, A New Hope, A New Home: Built of Living Stones.
Both pastors embraced the idea and decided they would share it at the other pastor’s parish. Fr. Billinger celebrated Mass at St. James in late March to make the announcement and Fr. Schemm celebrated Mass at Holy Savior to do so.
About three months after that announcement, the challenge was met. And on July 13, Fr. Schemm and the Hallocks presented a check for more than $53,000 on behalf of St. James Parish to Fr. Billinger and Holy Savior parish leaders.
During that presentation, Fr. Billinger shared that the support of St. James’ parishioners was even more special because the Augusta parish just recently retired the debt on their building project, after many years of diligence and sacrifice.
“We’ve known all along the great kindness of St. James Parish and the excellent leadership that you, Fr. Schemm, have provided,” Fr. Billinger said.
With the St. James gift, about $8.1 million has been committed to the Built of Living Stones campaign. The estimated overall cost for the project is $10.2 million.
“Each gift we receive moves us closer to realizing our vision,” Fr. Billinger said. “We have much work ahead, but we are encouraged by how far we have come.”
Holy Savior launched its campaign in January 2016. The project calls for a new church and school to be built at the existing church site at 13th Street and Erie. The school, near 15th Street North and Oliver, has been located away from the church for more than 13 years.
The first phase of the project would include much of the site work and the construction of the church, which would run along 13th Street. By building the church first, Holy Savior could continue to hold Mass in the existing church building during construction. The new church will be about 11,000 square feet and include a 3,500 square foot gathering space. It would be able to accommodate up to 550 people, more than twice the existing church’s capacity.
The second phase of the project would include the demolition of the existing church building and the construction of the new school along Erie Street. The new school would be about 22,000 square feet and house all grades pre-kindergarten through eight. The middle school grades will have specialized rooms dedicated to art, science, and music. It would be able to accommodate about 300 students comfortably.
Each phase would take about a year to complete. A third phase, which will include the gymnasium and cafeteria, will be taken on at a later time.
Thus far, more than 650 individuals, families, businesses, organizations, and foundations have made a financial commitment to the campaign.
“We are grateful for all of the love, prayers and support we have received from so many throughout our community for this important project,” Fr. Billinger said.
That includes the St. James families who contributed through the matching gift challenge.
Holy Savior “does so much for the entire community and Alan has said it’s probably the closest to mission work in our whole diocese,” Jeannine Hallock said. “And we feel it’s very important for us to do what we can.”
Jeannine Hallock said that Fr Billinger’s connection to St. James – where he once served as pastor – was certainly one reason for the outstanding response from St. James parishioners.
“But I think they also recognize the need,” she said, “we recognized that this was important for us to do.”
In presenting the check to Holy Savior, Fr. Schemm spoke about how St. James’ support of the Holy Savior project was an example that the church of Wichita is one body.
“That’s who we are,” he said. “The more we can do to bring virtue to the city, that’s what we’re about. We’re just one.”

Want to help Holy Savior build?
For more information about the Holy Savior Catholic Church & Academy building project, A New Hope, A New Home: Built of Living Stones, call the church office at 316-682-8712 or email jrodriguez@holy-savior.org.