By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
GRINNELL — Work is set to begin this month on St. Mary’s new parish center, among other building improvements. A groundbreaking will take place May 15 at 3 p.m., with a blessing from Bishop Martin Amos, apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Davenport.
The parish began its $2.6 million capital campaign in late 2015. The proposed parish center would accommodate parish offices, new classroom spaces, gathering space, a prayer garden, a 280-seat banquet hall and a fully equipped commercial kitchen for parish and community events.
The prayer garden plan was scrapped during the campaign after parishioners indicated a greater desire to spruce up the sanctuary, nave and choir loft in the church. Joe Bagnoli, building committee chairperson, said attention will focus on the dirty, cracked walls and the carpet and other flooring in these areas. New kneelers and seat cushions are also being planned. He noted that a “significant” individual gift has been pledged for these improvements.
The new parish hall will be named in honor of Merlin and Verna Mannat. “We were very fortunate to receive a gift from Tony Mannat in honor of his parents,” Bagnoli said. Tony Mannat grew up in Grinnell, attending Mass at St. Mary’s with his family, and now lives and practices his faith in the DeWitt area. The gift covers the entire hall portion of the budget.
The parish foundation pledged $350,000 to cover costs of the gathering space. The gathering space will be named in honor of the parishioners of St. Mary.
Bagnoli said more than 90 percent of active parishioners made a pledge to the capital campaign. “So we are all in! It’s been an evolutionary process. We aren’t simply building a building — we are building a community.”