By Joe Bollig
WAMEGO — St. Bernard Parish here had no sooner finished its new church north of town in 2010 when it began making plans to build some more.
On July 19, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann blessed its newly completed $2.7 million parish hall, office and classroom complex.
Archbishop Naumann was the main celebrant and homilist at the regular Sunday morning Mass before the dedication. The concelebrants were Father Michael Peterson, pastor for the past two years, and Father Earl Dekat, retired. Monsignor Gary Applegate was the master of ceremonies.
“These are important buildings — places that we dedicate also to the Lord, that all that happens here will be to his glory,” said Archbishop Naumann during the building’s blessing after the Mass.
“I congratulate all of you and thank you for your generosity to the parish,” he continued. “This complex you’ve built in a relatively short time shows the great priority you place on your Catholic faith and love for the Lord.”
Father Peterson is very pleased with the high level of support parishioners have given parish building projects.
“They’re very generous,” he said. “We’re not a huge parish. We have about 400 families.”
The addition is attached to the northwest side of the church. It has 13,000 square feet above ground and 3,000 square feet below ground for a total of 16,000 square feet.
It has 12 rooms, including a parish hall that can accommodate dinners seating 450, a large kitchen, a multipurpose room with a kitchenette, a youth room, four classrooms and office areas.
“We’re definitely in a growing area,” said Greg Dekat, parish finance committee member. “We’ve added more than 70 families since we opened the new church in 2010. Some moved away, but the church is fuller than it used to be. There are a lot of young families with kids.”
“The new complex is more than doubled in size compared to the old hall,” said Father Peterson. “And it’s connected to the church. Before, we had to drive to the church from the hall, and we’d lose people due to that.
“We just need to pay the rest on our loan, about $1.2 million. We’ve paid close to half of it already.”
The former church, at 8th and Poplar Streets, has been sold to the Unified School District 320.
Like the church, the new complex has incorporated some items from the former parish site. Nine of the stained glass windows that the new building features — two large and seven smaller — were original to the former church.
A groundbreaking and site blessing for the new complex was held in March 2014, and the building was completed in late June, said Kelly Zachgo, co-chairman of the parish building committee.
The design was by Treanor Architects from Lawrence, and the general contractor was Kansas Building Systems.
There’s plenty of room on the acreage for expansion, said Zachgo.
“The master plan, as far as the site goes, has space for a school if it ever comes to be,” he said. “A rectory is the next phase of the project.”
In addition to blessing the building, Archbishop Naumann also blessed the new low-power Catholic radio station, KSWZ-LP FM-105.3, operated by the not-for-profit Sword of St. George, Inc., which can also be heard over the Internet by going to: KSWZ-LP.com.