by Kara Hansen
SHAWNEE — Good things come to those who wait.
Cliché or not, those words have a ring of truth for parishioners at Good Shepherd in Shawnee.
Over 10 years after they began planning a community center, that dream became a reality at a ground-breaking ceremony held Aug. 18.
“This has been a dream since the parish facilities were originally planned 10 years ago. It’s wonderful to see that dream being realized,” said Father Francis Hund, pastor of Good Shepherd.
Plans for the community center were originally made as part of the third phase of a master building plan originally developed in 1996. Active fundraising and planning began in August 2005, with over $2 million raised in the past two years, according to Mary Losik, director of stewardship development at Good Shepherd.
Even though the community center is an expansion of the existing Good Shepherd facilities, there will not be much room to spare with the amount of growth the parish has experienced over the years.
“When we made these plans in 1996, it was looking to the future with space to accommodate 450 students in our school. Right now, we already have 420 students, and we are using and meeting in every corner of space,” said Losik. “Scheduling has been difficult. We’re coming out at the seams.”
Losik said there are currently four lunch periods at the school to accommodate the number of students. She also said in recent years, many CYO sports teams have been forced to practice or play home games at other parishes due to the lack of space at Good Shepherd.
“We’re pretty much at capacity right now,” said Losik.
When completed, the new parish center will have a gymnasium, a catering kitchen, four meeting rooms, a stage, and a lobby gathering area. In total, the center will be 16,000 square feet. Good Shepherd is currently accepting bids for a contractor, with plans to begin construction in mid- to late September. If all goes as planned, the new community center will be available for use in August 2008.
“The community center will be a place to play and eat and pray; to meet and to perform,” said Father Hund.
The groundbreaking ceremony included a blessing by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann. In attendance were the mayor of Shawnee and various other city officials. Eight parishioners, including one child, were chosen to represent the parish in breaking ground with shovels.
Mass followed the groundbreaking ceremony. High school youth served a taco dinner to complete the festivities. Parishioners are looking forward to having a similar celebration this time next year — in their newly completed community center.
“We’re very excited about having the community center. The parish has worked hard to bring it to completion,” said Losik.