NEW ULM After eight years of planning and fundraising, the Catholic Diocese of New Ulm is set to begin construction on its new Pastoral Center. A groundbreaking ceremony will be held on April 19 at 2 p.m. in New Ulm.
"I am looking forward to this significant event in the history of the diocese," said the Most Reverend John M. LeVoir, bishop of the Diocese of New Ulm. "The new building is a sign that the diocese is alive and looking to a future built on the principles of the New Evangelization."
The diocese's current Pastoral Center located at 1400 6th Street North off of North Highland Avenue in New Ulm was built in 1960 as the bishop's residence and as an office building for a small number of diocesan officials. Today, the building houses over 20 diocesan offices, which assist Bishop LeVoir in ministering to the diocese's 60,391 Catholics. Some of the offices include those dedicated to Catholic Charities, Catholic schools, youth ministry, family life, Hispanic ministry, and communications.
The new Pastoral Center will be located off the north corner of 5th Street North and Highland Avenue, about 100 yards away from the current building. At 28,320 square feet, the two-story structure (which includes a finished basement) will be slightly larger than the current Pastoral Center. It will have 30 offices, five conference rooms, three workrooms, and a chapel.
"The proposed Pastoral Center building is functional, but it is also a well-designed and beautiful building," Bishop LeVoir said. "My hope is that those who look upon the building and enter the building will have their minds turned to God, the creator of beauty."
At the end of 2004, KOH Architects of Mankato conducted a facility conditions assessment of the current Pastoral Center. It found a number of problems, including corroded and leaking pipes, faulty electrical wiring, and mold caused by condensation. Later estimates determined the cost of renovating the building would be the same or slightly more than constructing a new one.
So in January 2011, the diocese launched a $15 million capital campaign the "Christ Our Life" Campaign to raise funds for the new Pastoral Center. Half of the money would be dedicated to the Pastoral Center, and the other half would be used for projects at the diocese's 76 parishes. So far, the campaign has raised $12.6 million.
In April 2012, a newly formed Pastoral Center Building Committee began meeting to design the building. In addition to Bishop LeVoir and the project's architect, YHR Partners of Moorhead, the committee consists of Donlar Construction of St. Cloud, the project's construction manager; volunteer experts in the construction business from the local area; and diocesan officials.
"We spent countless hours meeting together: reducing costs, selecting reasonable options, and perfecting the building plans," Bishop LeVoir said. "The process paid off. The bids came in close to budget."
Construction will begin at the end of April and is expected to take one year. While Bishop LeVoir is excited to start, he's looking forward to the day when it will be done.
"I am a person who worries, so I will be most happy when the building is complete," he said. "Please pray that God's will be done."
Founded in 1957, the Diocese of New Ulm consists of 76 parishes in 15 counties of west-central Minnesota. Bishop LeVoir was installed as the fourth bishop of the diocese on Sept. 15, 2008.