St. John XXIII congregation officials decide to explore funding options for renovations that could cost $4.5 million
Church leaders at St. John XXIII Catholic Parish in Port Washington and Saukville have decided there is sufficient support to continue refining plans for renovations that could cost as much as $4.5 million.
Now, the challenge is to determine if there is enough financial backing.
“There is overall support for the project, and those who have indicated they were unsure, we believe, will be supportive once their concerns and questions are addressed,” said Deacon Mike Burch, the parish administrator.
Earlier in the year, the parish that was formed by the merger of the community’s three Catholic churches announced preliminary plans for renovations at the school and church on the St. Peter of Alcantara campus on Port Washington’s north side.
Those tentative plans, prepared by Groth Design Group, call for a 5,520-square-foot addition for school offices and Continuing Religious Education facilities, a two-floor addition for seventh and eighth-grade classrooms, space for art and religion classes and a 1,520-square-foot child-care room.
The school improvements are needed to accommodate plans to relocate the parish’s K-12 school to a single campus.
A full elevator is also part of those plans, along with expanded parking and security enhancements.
Once those plans were firmed up, a brochure was prepared, feedback sessions were held and individual parishioners were contacted to gauge support for the proposed improvements.
That work was done by the James Company in conjunction with a parish feasibility study team.
Of 51 parish households contacted for the follow-up interviews, 33 agreed to provide feedback on the capital fund appeal.
From that group, 23 said they supported the preliminary plans and only one said they opposed the expansion and renovation. Nine others said they were uncertain about the project.
Nineteen of the supporters of the capital campaign said they would pledge gifts that totalled between $375,000 and $450,000. Individual pledges ranged as high as $100,000.
A broader survey of parish members was conducted earlier this year, drawing responses from 185 households — of the 1,057 that regularly contribute at least $100 toward the parish.
In total, the parish has roughly 1,800 households.
From that broader survey, 58% of those responding said they would support the capital fund appeal, 14% said they would not support the effort and 28% said they were uncertain about their support.
Backers of the plan said they liked the idea of consolidating operations at a single location and the long-term outlook it offers the parish.
Of concern among those who said they were uncertain about the campaign were questions about the parish’s ability to afford the work, the school’s apparent dropping enrollment and what the project means for the future of the St. Mary’s and Immaculate Conception churches.
One of the recurring concerns cited by a number of parishioners was that the proposed renovation might make the entrance to St. Peter’s feel less welcoming. Others suggested that the worship space currently used at St. Peter’s be designated for school use, with all worship services moved to the St. Mary’s and Immaculate Conception buildings.
Overall, parish leaders said the level of support shown in the follow-up interviews justified continued planning for the building work.
“After having received the results of the feasibility study, our parish pastoral council and finance committee have agreed to move forward with plans to conduct a capital fund appeal in 2017,” an announcement in the parish’s Dec. 25 bulletin noted.
“We will be in discussion with the Archdiocese to receive their approval to proceed with an appeal. Prior to launching the appeal, parish leaders will spend the next couple of months further reviewing the parishioner feedback received during the past several months.”
The capital fund appeal is expected to be launched in spring. During the appeal, parishioners will be asked to consider doubling their envelope giving for the next three years.
The parish stressed that no final decisions on the scope and nature of the renovation will be made until parishioners have responded to the capital fund appeal.
In need of updating, the St. Peter’s school building was built in 1966, shortly after the church was erected. The gymnasium was added in 1987.
The consultants said there appears to be “sufficient parishioner support” for a three-year, capital appeal of roughly $1.5 million that could be stretched to $2 million.
The capital fund appeal is expected to be augmented by any proceeds from the sale of four parish properties deemed no longer needed by a visioning committee of the parish. They include the St. Mary’s school building, St. Mary’s parish center, Immaculate Conception school building and the Saukville parish center.
Burch said the local dynamic on the pending work is similar to what he experienced as parish director during a capital campaign at St. Peter Claver Church in Sheboygan.
By supporting the building campaign there “we demonstrated that as a parish, we had faith in our future and as a result there was new life experienced in parishioners.”
He said that same swell of support is likely to occur at St. John XXIII.
“After all, this is about more than brick and mortar. It is about building usage and creation that fosters our mission as a parish,” Burch said.
The full feasibility study report is available at www.stjohn23rd.org.