By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
CLINTON — “Everyone gather inside your new parish center,” Brenda Bertram said over a loudspeaker outside Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Parish. The director of faith formation and youth ministry told parishioners present on Aug. 9 to step inside an area marked off by a white line where the new center will be built.
“It is with great joy we gather this evening to bless the ground of our new parish hall. I welcome all who have joined us,” said Father Ken Kuntz, the parish’s pastor. He welcomed representatives from various Clinton organizations and parish committees who would help with the groundbreaking ceremony.
Bishop Martin Amos prayed that God “will bring this construction to successful completion and that his protection will keep those who work on it safe from injury. May this building be for us a place of hospitality, celebration and continued faith formation whenever we gather as a family of God.”
After prayer petitions, Bertram invited attendees to go around the perimeter of the future hall and participate in breaking ground. After the count of three, the bishop, Fr. Kuntz, guests and parishioners broke ground. They passed around shovels so that all who wanted to break ground could take a turn.
After a blessing by Bishop Amos, all were invited into the church building for refreshments.
Dave Schnier, the parish’s business manager, noted that the existing church was dedicated in 2009. The parish intended to add a parish hall in the future. The time was right to undertake the project now, he said.
The new hall will measure 8,210 square feet and includes a main room for events, a kitchen, pantry, closet space, lobby, coat room, restrooms and storage. The main hall will seat about 328 people at round tables. “The hall can be used for additional meeting space and may be divided by movable walls depending on if we want to add those now or in the future,” Schnier said.
An enclosed walkway will connect the church to the hall and a covered canopy will be installed near the front doors for people dropping off or picking up passengers. Estimated cost for the project is $2.34 million.
Jerome Burken, a member of the parish hall planning committee, said plans for a new hall began 16 months ago. With ground breaking done, work will begin soon. He said plans are to have the area enclosed by winter so work can continue and the project can be completed by June.
Some meetings are held in the church building but many gatherings are held in St. Boniface Hall, about a five-minute drive away. “I was on the committee to build that hall in 1979,” Burken said. “It was a challenge back then when we were building that hall. We did a lot (of the work) by ourselves.” Estes Construction of Davenport is the main contractor for the new parish hall; that company also built the church. “This is a good move to build the hall now,” Burken said.
“It’s about time,” said Jeanne Herrity of the groundbreaking event for the new hall. Although St. Boniface is fairly close to the church, she said the new hall is needed. Judy Hyde said, “I love the idea that it will be attached. This will be great.”
Lenny Weih, a member of the parish finance council, said it is exciting to see this new hall underway. “You can see the interest of people and they have been waiting for some time to see this happen.”
The new hall will allow funeral luncheons to be held on site, provide more conveniences and will be available for meetings and provide easier access for older people.
Bertram pointed out that among those in attendance for the ground breaking ceremony were Alma Nichols, 94, one of the oldest parishioners, and Ian Leslie, 5 weeks old, one of the youngest.