St. John the Evangelist
Parish Center blessed, dedicated
HOISINGTON -- On a warm June day last summer, more than 200 St. John the Evangelist parishioners stood on a patch of dirt next to the church to break ground for a new parish center.
Seven months later -- soon after Christmas -- the new 8,640 square foot red brick structure became home to six meeting rooms, a conference room, four parish staff offices, a 2,700 square foot fellowship hall, and a kitchen and pantry.
On Feb. 7, the building was officially blessed and dedicated by the Most Rev. Ronald M. Gilmore, bishop of Dodge City.
Following a Mass in which he confirmed several Hoisington and Odin parish youth, the bishop processed through the building, blessing the various rooms in the new structure.
In a letter to parishioners written when the doors to the center first opened, the bishop wrote, “When the Lord led his people out of Egypt in the days of Moses, the pillar of cloud came to rest on the Tent of Meeting. There the people were called to assemble. There God dwelt in their midst.
“... When the Lord led his people in the days of the Messiah, the Word was made flesh, we are told in John’s Gospel. He pitched his tent among us, the original text actually says. God dwelt then, and forever, in the person of Jesus Christ. There the people were called to assemble then, and forever after.
“Your ancestors built your magnificent church, just next door to the West,” he wrote. “But it is not big enough for all the assembling you have to do. Hence, you have added this parish center, the extension of the Tent of Meeting, of the Temple, of the Word made flesh. Here you will be called to assemble. Here God dwells in your midst.
“You have every reason to be proud of your achievement. All the diocese is grateful for it, and happy for you. May you meet the Lord here, and one another, often, you and your children.”
Father Dwight Birket, pastor, told his parishioners that the completion represents the end of a long journey, one that began more than six years ago.
“In reflecting on the many years it took to get to this point, I am reminded of a fine orchestra with many instruments, each with a unique and important part to play to produce beautiful music, all working together to make it happen,” Father Birket said.
“Our center came about because of the successful completion of many essential elements also: first came the dream, then the designing, followed by the fund-raising, and finally the construction.
“Each step involved countless hours of meetings, reviewing of plans, visiting of homes, all sorts of decisions, mailings, and moving.
“...In the end, the generosity of the St. John parishioners made it happen and produced a facility that will serve the parish for many years.”
Father Birket acknowledged the “generosity and professionalism of building designer Terry McFarren, and contractor Ray Christians.
At the June groundbreaking ceremony, Harland Rupp, co-chair of the fund-raising campaign, received a “special recognition award” for shepherding the project from its inception by serving on or as chairman of the pastoral council, finance committee, building committee, and the campaign committee.
Father Birket acknowledged the many individuals, families and companies that contributed toward the completion of the parish center.
“Today we ask God’s blessing on the new center and on those who will use it over the years,” he said.
Bishop Michael Jackels of Wichita, who was unable to attend the dedication, attended a parish open house held two weeks earlier.