KEWASKUM — “It’s happening. It’s really happening. It’s a great thing for the Village of Kewaskum and the entire Archdiocese of Milwaukee,” said Joel Fleischman in an enthusiastic voice about plans to build a parish center to serve a fast-growing Holy Trinity Parish.
Building a parish center/recreation facility/gymnasium and installing proper security measures to safeguard students at Holy Trinity’s K-8 school, as well as establishing a first-time emergency reserve fund, are among several goals earmarked for a $2.5 million construction and renovation project at the parish.
An anonymous donation of $750,000 to build the gym, along with an offer by the same donors to provide $25,000 for the next 10 years to support the parish and its school, got the wide-ranging project off to a solid and exciting pace, said Fleischman, a member of the parish building committee.
“Our parish has allowed the Holy Spirit to enter us like never before,” Fleischman said. “People are engaged in this project. Attendance at church is up and tithing has increased. People linger longer after Mass. The spirit in the air is very positive.”
“This project will address problems that are 30, 40 and 50 years old,” said Jim Wessing, a parish member and one of four co-chairs overseeing the project.
Wessing said Holy Trinity “is a very vibrant parish growing at the rate of about 25 families each year.”
The growth in families has helped fuel enrollment at the school.
|For more information about the Holy Trinity and St. Michael parishes’ activity center and building plans, visit www.KewaskumCatholicParishes.org.
Links to the plans and videos are
available on the site.
Ninety-two students attended the school two years ago, Wessing said. In the 2014-2015 school year, enrollment grew to 105. This year, the enrollment is at 114, with expectations of reaching 130 students next fall.
“We’ve never really had a recreation center or gymnasium for the kids,” Wessing said. “It makes it hard for our middle school basketball and volleyball teams to practice and play. Some of the young kids are trying to practice when they should be going to bed.”
More than 350 contractors have submitted bids for the project, which is eyed for groundbreaking in early spring.
Plans have been approved by the Village Planning Commission and are awaiting approval from the State Building Commission. Parish officials will present the project and how it will be funded to the archdiocese building commission on Feb. 11.
“The archdiocese has been very helpful. The project has also been well received by the church community, with more than 97 percent saying they would support the plans,” Wessing said.
Holy Trinity, which is clustered with St. Michaels, has 830 member families; St. Michael has 300 member families.
C.D. Smith of Fond du Lac will be general contractors on the project. Groth Design Group of Cedarburg designed the project.
Wessing said the project also includes plans to repair one parking lot and build another, construct parish offices, upgrade several 50-year-old bathrooms plagued for years by leaking toilets, improve technology within the school, and provide $100,000 for the parish’s Angel Fund, which assists with tuition and other costs for students unable to afford them.
Wessing said the school’s hot lunch program is operated in the church basement, requiring students to walk from the school, possibly exposing them to security risks.
“Our kitchen is old and outdated. When you plug in a Nesco roaster, it blows all the circuits. It makes it hard to hold funeral luncheons and other activities,” Wessing said. “Our parish offices are currently located in the rectory. We want them to be in a more professional setting.”
Renovation plans call for building a cafeteria next to the new parish offices.
Wessing said the church received a call about a year ago from the anonymous donors offering the $750,000 to build the gym.
“Once we received the offer, we started working on what has become a 20-year plan for growth of the Catholic community in Kewaskum,” Wessing said. “When this donor came forward it was like, ‘Let’s take care of it all right now.’“
The project sparked the beginning of a fundraising effort called “We Believe” to raise $2.5 million, which includes the $750,000 already in the bank.
The We Believe effort is three-pronged.
First is a goal of raising $1.75 million to build the parish center and create a small emergency reserve fund, as well as begin growing the Angel Fund.
Phase two involves reaching the $2 million mark, allowing bathroom renovations, construction of a student cafe, the installation of basketball and volleyball equipment, continued growth of the Angel Fund and reserve fund, and doing repair work on the exterior of the church.
Phase three, called a transformation goal, involves reaching the full $2.5 million, allowing completion of the construction and renovation work as well as increasing support to local charities and helping fulfill the needs of St. Michael Parish.
In order to widen financial support for the project, church officials initially targeted 70 parish members who are frequent donors to the parish.
“Right now we have about 70 percent of the total needed for the project,” Wessing said.
Fr. Edwin Kornath, pastor at Holy Trinity, said it’s been a desire of the church for 20-plus years to build a gym.
“Nearly all of our parishioners are very enthusiastic about the project. The generosity of the people who donated the $750,000 brought tears to my eyes. It was so emotional to know they love their church that much,” Fr. Kornath said.
He said there is also great enthusiasm among Kewaskum businesses and that the parish center will become a pearl in the community, serving church and public needs. He called Holy Trinity a flagship of the community.
Fr. Kornath praised the more than 250 members of the Holy Trinity and St. Michael communities “who put in hours and hours of work and prayer into this effort.”
Fleischman said the most important part of the project is re-energizing the Catholic faith within the parish and encouraging stewardship. He said the archdiocese has been “a wonderful asset and true partner in all this.”
“This is a generational effort that will outlive all of us. People more than 100 years ago built this church and school that has served generations in Kewaskum. This latest project is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will serve many more generations,” Fleischman said.