by Cori Hilsgen
The Church of St. Joseph dedicated its new parish center on Thursday, Aug. 15.
The celebration began with a Mass, followed by the dedication and an appreciation picnic meal.
The Rev. Jerome Tupa, OSB, of the Church of St. Joseph, along with Abbot John Klassen, OSB, and Joseph Feders, OSB, from St. John’s Abbey, were present for the dedication. Feders was the pastor before Tupa and was involved with some of the initial planning of the center. Tupa recognized and thanked many of the people who were involved in planning and construction of the center.
The event was well attended by about 500 parishioners. Bishop John Kinney had been scheduled to attend, but cancelled due to his health. Parishioners had a chance to view the “Heritage Hall” gathering space of the new center and were also able to enjoy a picnic lunch which included hotdogs, corn-on-the-cob, chips and cookies. Some ate in the new hall and others enjoyed the sunny weather outdoors.
The new parish center space will be used for gatherings before and after weekend and daily Masses, funeral lunches, faith formation programming, parish groups and meetings. Individuals can also schedule private parties and gatherings such as wedding receptions, anniversaries and other events.
Business manager Sandra Scholz said any member of the parish and St. Joseph area is welcome to consider the parish center as a possible location for an event they are planning.
The parish council and finance council determined a fee would be charged to use the space. The fee will cover the cost of heat, air conditioning, electricity, water, paper products and cleaning of the facility. Fees will also cover the cost of someone to oversee events, which is required by the church’s insurance provider. Parish center policies will be reviewed after a year.
Fees will vary depending on the number of people using the facility, space needed and length of time the facility is being used.
“It’s so wonderful to finally have an adult space in our parish for gatherings that is connected to the church,” Scholz said. “It was especially touching to see the smiles and tears in many parishioners’ eyes when they saw for the first time the beautiful new space.”
Hagemeister Architects of St. Cloud and Breitbach Construction Co. of Elrosa designed and built the addition. Construction began on the center in September 2012.
Scholz said the total cost of the building project was more than $1.846 million. The majority of the funding for the center came from capital campaign pledges and donations. Funding also came from cash reserves from bequests and parish festival proceeds.
“The entire process of planning and building took a long time and this past year of construction was very difficult for many of our parishioners, especially for the school and faith formation families and those needing handicap access,” Scholz said. “I hope we can all say it was well worth the effort as we enjoy more and more wonderful parish functions like the dedication meal in our new Heritage Hall.”
Only one person had signed up to help parish staff with the clean-up after the event, but many people stayed to help and the clean-up was quickly completed.
“It was beautiful to see how much people cared about the new parish center and the joy in which they used it,” Scholz said.
The building still needs some additional items. The center was constructed with the ability to install partition walls to create four smaller rooms and to divide the corridor from the larger Heritage Hall space. Scholz said the cost of the partitions is approximately $100,000. The kitchen needs additional equipment including a dishwasher, freezer and cooler. It also needs a stainless-steel counter and storage cabinets which are estimated to cost $50,000-$60,000.
The Church of St. Joseph is the first consecrated church in Minnesota and was dedicated 157 years ago on June 29, 1871 by Bishop Thomas Grace of St. Paul.
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people's stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.