Tour lower level progress at a community open house April 13 and 14
By Starrla Cray
WAVERLY, MN The community is encouraged to stop by St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Waverly (606 Elm Ave.) this weekend to see its newly installed elevator and the lower level where it leads.
Mass will take place Saturday, April 13 at 5 p.m.; and Sunday, April 14 at 8 and 10:30 a.m. Tours of the lower level (which will contain classrooms and administrative offices) will follow each Mass.
“The elevator is an important addition to the building, so we can meet the needs of the handicapped and the elderly,” Father Kenneth O’Hotto said. “I’m grateful to all the parishioners for working with me and helping make this project possible. Because of volunteer time and talent, we were able to save money on the project, as well.”
The elevator is fully functional, and, pending a state inspection Thursday, April 11, will be available for use during the open house. The church also hopes to have lower level drywall and painting complete, as well as electrical work roughed in.
Administrative assistant Mary Pettit said one parishioner is a general contractor who has been devoting “every free moment he has” to the project, along with many other volunteers.
“We’re so blessed,” Pettit said. “It just amazes me how far we’ve gotten.”
Furnishings are already taken care of, as well, through an in-kind gift of desks, credenzas, bookshelves, and other useful pieces.
Raising elevator funds
Originally, St. Mary’s had planned to install the elevator after the lower level was completed, as the “grand finale.” However, codes changed after they started, and the elevator became the top funding priority.
“We raised the $80,000 for the elevator in 10 weeks,” Pettit said.
The Waverly Lions Club donated a substantial amount to the project, because it will serve not only the needs of the parish, but also residents of Waverly.
“It’s not limited to Catholics,” Pettit said of the fellowship hall. “We want to build community.”
St. Mary’s Fellowship Hall was constructed about six years ago, and the 11,000-square-foot upper level is used for a variety of church functions, open houses, royalty coronations, non-profit events, blood drives, sports banquets, and more.
The 10,000-square-foot lower level currently has a youth room and restrooms.
The second phase of the project made substantial progress a few months ago, with walls being added to create seven additional faith formation classrooms for first through 10th grade, five administrative offices, and a large work area. The south side of the lower level will remain open and unfinished, leaving room for future expansion as needed.
The church has about $78,000 left to raise to complete the second phase, which will cover flooring, trim, paint, a suspended ceiling, cabinetry, ventilation, and other items.
“Phase three will basically be to pay off the remaining debt, and finish the showcase room,” Pettit said.
The showcase room, located on the main level of the fellowship hall, will be used for families during funerals, greeting bishops, and other activities. Plans are to construct a fireplace with wood cabinetry.
“While paying off our debt, we’ve been able to maintain our general fund balance,” Pettit said. “We’re holding our own, and we’ve increased ministries.”
St. Mary’s has been part of the Waverly community since the 1880s, and offers youth activities, religious education, an annual fall festival, daily Mass, and more.