Eudora parish breaks ground on new church
by Jessica Langdon
EUDORA — Fifty years is a long time to work with something meant to be temporary.
But that’s how long Holy Family Parish in Eudora has made the most of its “temporary church” in the basement of the school that was built in 1963.
From the outside, those unfamiliar with the parish never notice the church inside, said Molly Pratt, a life-long parishioner and director of youth ministries.
“Once you come inside and are a part of Holy Family, it’s just this amazing parish family that is so alive for Christ,” she said.
She’s looking forward to the day about a year from now when the outside of the building will reflect that spirit inside.
Holy Family broke ground Sept. 14 on a brand-new church building that is expected to open in early fall 2015.
The project will give the parish more worship space — seating 540 — plus make room for much-needed additional classroom space that will give each class room to worship and play.
The current church building will become a handicap-accessible parish hall with far greater seating capacity.
Deep history, long wait
The parish, founded in 1859, celebrated the completion of its original church building in 1864 at Ninth and Church Street.
That building is still used as an adoration chapel and for special occasions. The current church at 820 Birch St. — with the parish hall upstairs in the old school — has served the parish’s needs, but people have longed for decades for a new space.
“The parish began ‘dreaming’ about the church 15-20 years ago with the idea of building a church to replace the ‘temporary church’ we have been using for 50 years,” said Father Patric Riley, pastor of Holy Family Parish.
And finally, a few years ago, an all-parish meeting set the course.
“The most exciting point for me was our parish committees recommending that we move forward and submit our project and funding to the archdiocese,” said Father Riley. “It was important to me that I followed their wishes.”
“The second most exciting moment,” he continued, “was when the archdiocese said YES!”
The $3.6 million facility will be paid for in a few ways.
The parish received capital campaign pledges of $1.3 million and a gift of money and land from George Schehrer. A loan from the archdiocese will cover the remaining amount.
Integration Design Group and Piper- Wind Architects, Inc., worked on the design.
Excel Construction Company is the general contractor.
“Our church buildings not only provide a place for worship, they should fully participate in the liturgy itself. And the dual ends of any liturgical celebration are the glorification of God and the sanctification of his people,” said Adam Hermanson, principal and owner of Integration Design Group. “Our great hope is that the new church building at Holy Family will serve to build up the ‘living stones’ in Eudora for many generations to come.”
As a Catholic — a member of St. Agnes Parish in Roeland Park — Ken Low of Piper-Wind Architects felt his faith provided an understanding of what is needed and why in the design process.
“The parishioners of Holy Family have made great sacrifices to provide for the construction of this wonderful new facility, and I feel truly blessed to be a part of this project and play a role in helping them fulfill their dream,” said Low.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann celebrated a Mass — marking the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross — on Sept. 14.
The groundbreaking ceremony fol- lowed to the east of the current building.
“You did not have to say yes,” said Doug Pickert, building committee chairman, to Father Riley.
Emotion filled Pickert’s voice as he noted all the time Father Riley devoted to this, all the while celebrating Masses and funerals, officiating at weddings, participating in religious education, praying for the sick, and more.
“You listened to us and loved your family. May God richly bless you,” said Pickert. “This parish family is forever grateful.”
Pickert, a landscape architect who led a number of committees, was excited to “turn some dirt” on this new chapter for his beloved parish.
“I love that, like our name implies, there is very much a family feeling at our parish,” said Pickert. “People know each other, they reach out to each other, they help each other.”
Population projections indicate areas around the K-10 corridor will grow in the coming years, and this provides room for that, he said.
Pratt noted the hours — those both seen and unseen — that Pickert and Father Riley poured into this.
As a lifelong parishioner, “I feel really blessed because I know that a lot of people have worked really hard and dreamed and sacrificed for decades and they didn’t get to see this,” said Pratt.
More than a building
Archbishop Naumann prayed for the safety of those involved in the construction of this church, which isn’t merely a building.
“It is a place that will house the very presence of the living God,” he said. “And so it’s a sacred task.”
Archbishop Naumann, Father Riley, Hermanson, Pickert and Michael Blackledge of Piper-Wind Architects broke ground where the altar of the new church will stand.
Members of the parish then filed around it, standing in the shape of the building that will be their new church.
“It is just amazing that a small parish of 337 families could join together to accomplish all this,” said Father Riley.
“We’re getting this new home for our family to be in together,” said Pratt.