By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
WEST POINT — St. Mary Parish broke ground July 10 for a new, $3.1 million parish center to serve the parishes of St. Mary-West Point, St. James-St. Paul, St. John the Baptist-Houghton and St. Boniface-Farmington.
The parish center will bear the name of Msgr. J.A. Wagner, who served at St. Mary from 1939-1970 and spearheaded gym and parish center additions in 1956, additional classrooms in 1960 and a science lab at the school in 1963. An anonymous donor, who gave $500,000 to the project, requested that the center be named after Msgr. Wagner.
Discussion of a new parish center has been ongoing since 2011, said Rebecca Hannum, parish coordinator. “We don’t feel we can postpone any longer. The current building is not suited for business, not readily accessible and unable to be updated with new technology. This new building will remedy these deficiencies while being more energy efficient.”
“We are excited about this much-needed building project,” said Father Dan Dorau, pastor of the four parishes. “The people of St. Mary’s have been planning and saving for more than a decade. It’s great to see the people come together and commit to the future of this faith community.”
St. Mary’s former convent currently serves as offices for the cluster parishes. “It wasn’t ideal but it allowed for an office when previously there was none,” said Hannum. “Religious education has been located only at St. Mary in West Point and St. James in St. Paul for several years and this will continue. However, in West Point we are using space in Holy Trinity Elementary school for this purpose and for youth ministry. The older section of the school building isn’t adequate for current needs. Plus the school would like the space for expansion.”
The new center will be located directly behind St. Mary Church with a walkway connecting the two buildings. It will include office space for six employees, five classrooms for religious education, a multipurpose room with kitchen for larger events and use by youth, family and faith formation programs. The main level will have a secure vestibule entrance, restrooms and storage space. The lower level will allow for long-term storage needs. The project is expected to be complete in summer 2024.
Hannum said the existing parish center, attached to the church, has a small kitchen area, restrooms and other space used for small-group meetings, small lunch events, Doughnut Sunday and funeral visitation.
The new parish center “will provide more space than we currently have for events.”
Plans also call for the eventual demolition of the former convent and the older section of Holy Trinity Catholic School building so the school can create needed space at the elementary school, Hannum said.