Building up the Church—literally!

One of several building projects under way in the diocese, Holy Family parish near Gladstone is currently working on renovations and an expansion of their worship space. (Megan Marley/Key photo)

By Megan Marley

The cold, clear weather gave added reason to move quickly on the Holy Family Parish construction site November 8. Workers moved briskly to weld steel girders, lay pipe and wires, check coatings and move materials. Inside the jobsite trailer, a buzz of conversation matched the tempo of those working outdoors.

Project managers, engineers, the architect, parish staff and involved parishioners crowded into the trailer, exchanging friendly banter before the meeting on the new worship space expansion and building renovations began.

They got down to business with a prayer. The room fell silent as the youth & young adult minister for the parish, Rob Lickteig, led a prayer for the safety of all those working on construction and for the fruitful progress of the meeting.

“Next from the agenda: project updates and upcoming schedule items,” the project manager said, after the prayer concluded.

He gave an overview of current points on the construction, including inspection being done on the walls and plumbing, the new road being rocked the next day, when painting and shingling would begin, how heaters were being brought in to continue work in the cold weather and when generators would be in for switching over to the new electrical system.

Placement and completion of lighting, ductwork, sprinklers, electrical, access hatches, drainage, concerns, logistics of keeping the parish functioning during construction and other details were discussed. To save on costs, it was determined that parishioners could do some demolition work within the church. And a decision needed to be made on the color of corner guards and gutter drains. After the meeting wrapped up, Holy Family building manager Marie Relic and two others from the parish went out to decide on a color.

“What do you think?” one of the women asks the others, holding strips of different shades of flashing up against a mockup of the new extension outside. They liked one, but decided to check it against the existing church building before giving it the ok.

The Construction Process
Currently in the construction phase, Holy Family is one of the many building projects under way in the diocese.

“There’s lots of steps before people even hear it’s coming, there’s lots of groundwork that the parish does,” explained Martha Kauffman, diocesan construction manager.

New construction and renovation begins with a letter to the bishop to begin the process. Once okayed, the idea moves to the next stage: feasibility studies to see the full scope of what the parish wants to do, how much it’s going to cost, and the parish’s capability for a capital campaign. The next stage is presenting these findings to the bishop, the finance council and the diocesan building commission to be evaluated.

Part of the process is evaluating how much a parish may need to borrow. The diocesan Deposit and Loan Fund serves as an internal bank for parishes to draw from if necessary.

“What we’re doing is taking the deposits of parishes, their savings, and we’re holding them in trust for those parishes, and in the meantime we’re loaning that money out to other parishes that have building needs. And if there’s money that’s not being loaned out, it’s being invested,” said Dave Malanowski, diocesan finance officer and treasurer, who generally oversees the process for the bishop and the diocese and helps parishes understand building and finance processes.

He explained there are three main financial policies in place to stabilize the loan and construction systems: cash and pledges from the parish must equal 70 percent of total project costs (which include everything from initial planning costs and design, testing and engineering costs to equipment and furnishings); the maximum loan does not exceed 50 percent of total costs, with a maximum loan term of 15 years; and parishes must have 50 percent of total costs covered ‘cash in hand’ to initiate construction.

Once the bishop approves the project and sets the total project cost, the parish proceeds with the capital campaign. After that, the total project cost may be adjusted if the pledge total varies from the project’s feasibility amount.

Next, an architect is hired to begin design, and the schematics, design/development and construction designs are reviewed by the diocesan building commission. Once financials, plans and designs come together, bidding for the project can take place and construction begins.

Kauffman explained that the building commission walks with the parish’s project from start to finish to give advice on what has or hasn’t worked in the past.

“They’re a group of professionals, mostly retired, and in all different disciplines—architecture, engineering and construction. They’re sort of our sounding board or our peer review,” she explained.

“So when a project comes to the property management office, one of our kickoff meetings is to sit down with representatives from that diocesan building commission and review things like their vision for what the project should be, their feasibility for financials and their feasibility for their master plan.”

“From there, we help them if they need help, hiring an architectural firm or bringing on a construction manager, all the way through to post-construction.”

Building the Church
Besides Holy Family, other parishes under construction include St. James in Liberty constructing a new worship space, and St. Charles Borromeo in Kansas City building an addition for offices and a gathering space. St. Elizabeth parish in Kansas City is having some preliminary design work done for a new Early Childhood Center, parking lot, parish ministry center and church updates, and parishes currently undergoing feasibility and master planning studies include Our Lady of the Presentation and St. Margaret of Scotland parishes in Lee’s Summit. St. James in St. Joseph is in the capital campaign phase for roofing and other updates, and Twelve Apostles in Platte City is getting ready for a phase II of work on the parish.

Two major renovation and construction projects were completed in this past year, both at Catholic schools.

St. Peter’s Parish and School in the Brookside area of Kansas City completed school renovations and a new glass narthex connecting the parish and school at the beginning of this year. Besides its functionality and beauty for the parish, the addition has caught the attention of the outside community too.

“St Peter’s won two awards in one day: one was a community award from Southtown Council, and the other was an interior design award from Mid-American Design Awards,” explained Kauffman. “Two totally different award ceremonies, and total different meanings about the honor of receiving that award!”

Back in 2017, St. Pius X High School started a three-year, $7 million Warrior Pride Campaign for capital improvements, which include transforming a former convent on campus into a fine arts and activities center and building a 45-acre athletic complex less than a mile from main campus.

Now those are open. The activities center includes arts classrooms, event spaces and Catholic Radio. The new athletic complex includes a track, practice fields, baseball and softball fields, tennis courts and cross-country trails, most of which have been put to use this fall already—St. Pius X tennis, softball, cross-country and soccer plus grade school football practice by the Northland Catholic Warriors have used the complex.

“Overall it’s just a great thing for all the different sports to be able to have a home in one place,” said Thorn Burg, tennis coach and social studies teacher at St. Pius X High School. “Now we can host our matches, even potentially tournaments further into the future.”

“I hadn’t been able to watch that many softball games before, but with our tennis courts being right next to the softball field we’ve been able to host a softball game and a tennis match right next to each other,” Burg continued. “So it’s good, increasing the school spirit.”

“It’s so much better—we used to have to drive to Tiffany Springs for all of our games,” said Abi Strano, a St. Pius X senior who plays catcher and 3rd base in softball. “Now it’s right up the street, it takes you two minutes and it’s so much better for getting a fan base and more students involved in softball.”

Government teacher and cross-country and track coach Andy Keefer used to run cross-country and track himself at St. Pius X as a high schooler.

“We were definitely on the roads back then, and we ran around a concrete oval that’s around the football field—that wasn’t so good for the legs,” Keefer said. He said the new course and track is a better surface to train on and makes it a lot safer for students being off the roads. They’ll also be able to host meets and conferences next year.

An aerial view of the new athletic complex at St. Pius X High School. The new complex includes a track, practice fields, baseball and softball fields, tennis courts and cross-country trails. (photo courtesy of Dan Peters)

Kate Parrish, junior, used the complex for cross-country this year, and will play center-man field in the spring soccer season.

“We’ll be able to practice there every day and we’ll have our own field, rather than just playing on the practice football field—and it’s an actual soccer field. And I think we’ll be having a couple games here,” she said.

As more funds are raised, further stages of additions continue, including a multi-purpose building with restrooms, concessions and storage, field lighting, outdoor shelters, additional parking, bleachers, scoreboards, landscaping and additional field maintenance.

“It’s really nice that the St. Pius X community values all of our sports to make for us such a nice complex,” Burg said. “We feel very fortunate to have what we have.”


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October 22, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph