Emporia parish holds rites at two sites
by Joe Bollig
EMPORIA — The site blessing and groundbreaking ceremony at Sacred Heart Parish here was marked with prayer, hymns — and trains.
Parishioners and pastor Father Thomas Dolezal joined Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann at the parish on Sept. 28 for rites at two construction sites.
The archbishop blessed the site of a new covered handicap-accessible entryway, foyer and 800-square-foot eucharistic adoration chapel on the north side of the church. He also blessed the site of a new rectory, now a vacant lot on the southwest corner of the intersection of Exchange Street and East Second Avenue.
Nearby passing trains sounded their horns on a regular basis during the ceremonies.
“I was telling Father Tom that I was at a groundbreaking last week in Eudora and they had a flyover as part of the ceremony,” said Archbishop Naumann.
“He told me,” the archbishop continued, that “we’re going to have trains come through. And we’ve asked them to honk their [horns] as a sign of respect and jubilation.”
“He also told me [that the outdoor statue of] St. Christopher would have to be relocated,” said the archbishop. “I told Father Tom I don’t think he’ll mind. He’s the patron of travelers — and it’s for a good reason!”
The parish has been trying to launch a similar project since 1999, but couldn’t make it work for various reasons. Now, it’s going to happen. The parish capital campaign has reached its goal of $1.5 million in pledges, and has collected 50 percent of that in cash.
The capital campaign will fund the new entryway and foyer, adoration chapel, rectory, boiler for the church, air conditioner and stained-glass window cleaning.
“When a parish does any kind of building project like this, it requires a lot of sacrifice and commitment on the part of a lot of people,” said Archbishop Naumann.
“So, we thank all of you for your generosity, for your love for Jesus, your love for his church, your desire to help this community of Sacred Heart — which has such a rich tradition — continue to grow and prosper and have its best days in front of it,” the archbishop continued. “So, thanks to all who have made this possible.
“I’m glad to come and celebrate this accomplishment of yours and pray this prayer of blessing.”
The principal architect of the project is Marsha Hoffman of SFS Architecture of Kansas City, Missouri. A general contractor has not yet been selected. Three bids were returned, all slightly over budget. The parish finance and building committees will study the bids and decide on what further modifications to plans might be necessary.