On the weekend of March 1, 2015, the Pastor announced at all the Masses the parish’s plan to build a multipurpose hall in memory of our late associate pastor Father Michael Kyte, OP. An architect’s rendering of the hall appears above.
The hall will connect with the north end of the parish center and run parallel to the church with a gap of approximately 30 feet between the two buildings, ending at about 2/3rds of the length of the church. Connecting the hall with the church will be a spacious foyer with an adoration chapel, restrooms, and a possible small book shop. No parking spaces will be lost as new parking spaces will be created on the west side of the hall along Lathrop.
The hall will accommodate about 450 people without tables, and 360 with tables. On weekdays it will be used as a lunch room for the school and at other times will be used by the parish for adult education programs (such as Bible studies), religious education classes, parish breakfasts and dinners, for youth meetings, men’s and women’s groups, Mimosa Sundays, etc. The Fr. Michael Kyte Hall would help to extend the parish’s mission by making it easier for parishioners and friends to come together and meet one another.
The Fr. Michael Kyte Hall is the parish’s special project in the Archdiocese of Chicago’s overall capital campaign for Catholic education and the other needs of parishes like ours. We were given a target goal of $1,125,000 which, by the grace of God, we have already surpassed thanks to our generous parishioners and friends. We have approximately $2,500,000 raised in pledges. Approximately 40% of our target ($450,000) will go to the Archdiocese for the education of deserving children in Catholic grade schools and high schools as well as for the ongoing formation of volunteer catechists in religious education programs. The remaining 60% ($2,050,000) will go to St. Vincent Ferrer Parish.
Constructions is expected to begin by the end of June 2016 and to be completed in nine months. To make a contribution, please call the Parish Office at 708-366-7090 or email the Pastor, Fr. Tom McDermott, OP, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also make your contribution online by clicking below. Please keep this project in your prayers. Thank you!
– by Fr. Tom McDermott, OP
Q. I’ve noticed that the plan for the new building has changed. Why?
A. The change was recently made at the recommendation of the Development Review Board of the Village of River Forest. The original plan was that the new building would jut out at a right angle from the southwest corner of the church, with both buildings forming a gigantic L. The Development Review board was not inclined to grant us our request for an exemption so that the new building could extend closer to the Lathrop Avenue than the Village Code allows. Instead, they strongly recommended that the new building run parallel to the church with an approximate 30’ gap between the two buildings, creating an outdoor gathering place like a plaza. I, perhaps naively, did not expect the Board to make any changes to our original plan, but I now believe that the new plan will be more pleasing to the eye.
Q. Is the new building going to block the sunlight on the west side of the church?
A. Not at all. The new building is just one-story tall and the church is approximately four-stories tall. Also, the new building will be located about 30 feet from the church. So sunlight will continue to stream in through our beautiful stained glass on the west-side of the church.
Q. Is the new building still going to be used as a lunchroom for the school?
A. Yes. The new plan still allows the school children to walk from the school into the multipurpose hall without going outside.
Q. Why do you think that this new building is needed? How is the parish going to maintain this building in the years ahead?
A. First, it’s our hope that the new multipurpose hall will allow us to have more programs (church groups, Bible studies, youth groups, etc.) and thereby attract more people to join the parish. Already meeting spaces are in short supply here, with some groups having to meet off-campus. Second, the parish has received several inheritances in the last two years amounting to approximately $1 million. Absolutely none of this money is going to be used for the new building but is going to be kept in reserve for maintenance of our buildings and grounds.
Q. I heard that the parish has received a large inheritance. I don’t think it’s wise to put that money into building a new multipurpose hall.
A. Yes, and I agree 100%.
Q. How were parishioners consulted before the decision was made to construct a multipurpose hall?
A. In the summer of 2014, I scheduled two meeting with members of the Parish Pastoral Council, past and present, and other leaders of parish organizations. We began by asking the question, “What are the physical needs of our parish?” Besides the usual list of boilers, new windows, tuck-pointing, etc., the need for a larger meeting space surfaced. We wondered if the Pine Room, under the gym, could be thoroughly renovated. The consensus at these meetings was that it would be better to put money into a new building than into the old basement – a project that would require the installation of an elevator and would still be some distance from the church. In the spring of 2015 we held a series of receptions on the proposed site of the new building. All parishioners were invited to voice their opinions.
Q. How has the fundraising gone?
A. Very well. Within a few short months, parishioners and friends donated and/or pledged approximately $2.5 million to the To Teach Who Christ Is campaign. Of this amount $450,000 was reserved to fund Catholic education in the Archdiocese. The remaining $2.05 million will be used to fund the hall. In Chicago, our parish is now well-known for the generosity of its parishioners and friends.
Q. Do you have to go outside the church to get into the new building?
A. No. There will be a foyer which will connect the church and the new building such that one can walk from the present southwest-door of the church into the foyer and into the multipurpose room. It will also be possible to enter the multipurpose hall from the outside.
Q. How much is this going to cost?
A. At this time, the cost estimate is $2 million. To date we have a little over $2 million in pledged funds to be used.
Q. When will construction start?
A. By the grace of God we hope to begin this summer and finish within nine months. Please keep this timeline in your prayers.
Q. Who is going to supervise the project?
A. A Building Committee has been set up to advise me. It consists of members of our own parish, who are experts in the field of engineering and construction. Mr. Kris Zadlo, a professional engineer and parishioner, will chair the committee. Members will include; Mr. Walter Kosch, SVF School parent, lawyer and businessman; Fr. Matthew Srabala, OP, associate pastor; and Mrs. Jean Finnegan, CPA, our business manager.
Q. How much longer are you going to be our pastor? Are you going to leave in the midst of this big project?
A. I have been your pastor for 3½ years and the ordinary first term for a pastor is six years with a possible extension of three more years. I love the parish and do not foresee my asking for another assignment or being given one until this project is finished.
Q. How many parking spaces will the parish lose once the building is finished?
A. None. While the new building extends north from the north-end of the parish center, occupying some present parking spaces, a new parking area will be created on the west side of the new building with the same number of spaces.
Q. The exterior of the new building, as seen in the architect’s rendering, doesn’t seem to match our church. Right?
A. No. There is a limit to what the architect’s drawings can show us. The new building will have a cast stone base which will closely resemble the limestone exterior of our church with architectural stucco above.
Q. I’m not in support of this project.
A. That’s fine. As we’ve made clear, everyone is free to contribute or not contribute to this project. Regardless, everyone will be accorded the same services and attention by the parish and myself and the other priests. Having said this, I see this moment as critical in the future of our parish. Yes, the new building will somewhat change the appearance of our church but the Church is for the sake of mission or growth and is not a museum.