St. Jude’s, Peoria, plans parish-school expansion

By: By Jennifer Willems

“Building God’s Kingdom” is the theme for a capital campaign that will provide funding for construction of a 32,000-square-foot expansion for St. Jude’s Church and School in Peoria.

Parishioners are learning the details for the $6 million project in a series of 12 informational receptions that are taking place through the first week of March. Participation in these events is vital, according to Father Patrick Henehan, pastor.

“It’s at the receptions that they really understand what the whole campaign is,” he told The Catholic Post.

“I want them to be part of the process rather than on the sidelines. We want them to be actively involved,” he explained. “We know the success of our parish depends on them — not just a few people doing a few things, but everybody.”

The expansion plan includes a multi-use parish center, five additional classrooms for the school, classrooms for religious education and adult faith formation, and several meeting and gathering areas. Growth in the parish and school makes these facilities a necessity, Father Henehan said.

“There’s a reason the poinsettias are stored in our house. There’s a reason the food pantry is in our basement,” he said referring to the rectory. “We’re so pressed for space and we have so many new members, averaging nine a month.”

More than 900 families have made St. Jude their spiritual home. There are nearly 330 children enrolled in religious education classes, and 81 students in pre-school through third grade attending St. Jude’s School, which opened its doors in 2009.

Father Henehan said parish families celebrated 55 baptisms last year.
In addition, there are more than 40 ministries and organizations vying for the parish’s limited space.

“Our project is one for the entire parish and the community as well,” Father Henehan said. “While Catholic education is one of the most important ministries in our parish, we want to offer these new facilities to all who may benefit from them.”

It’s about more than bricks and mortar, however.

“These new facilities will be the means to support St. Jude’s mission of encouraging active participation in our parish, passing on the teachings of Jesus Christ, and building our family of faith,” he said.

That good work began in 1879, when the Catholic community in Dunlap attended a little church that was entrusted to the patronage of St. Rose of Lima. The mission became a parish in 1960 and was annexed to the city of Peoria in 1969. The current St. Jude’s Church and hall were dedicated on June 29, 1975, by Bishop Edward O’Rourke.

Helping to lead the parish into the future through the capital campaign are general co-chairs Bill and Carolyn Kraft, with George and Barbara Schaefer serving as honorary chairpersons.
Members of the campaign committee are: Mead Babcock, Ray and Bonnie Busam, Dan and Katie Carey, Ron and Cyndi Colgan, Gio and Susan Colombo, Bob and Nancy Franzwa, Charlie and Sue Laurenti, Paul and Jill Lindsey, Bob and Carolyn Nault, and Jeff and Julie Stedwill. Also on the committee is Winnie Pratt, principal of St. Jude’s School.

Assisting the parish with the capital campaign is Guidance in Giving Inc., a professional fundraising organization. The campaign director is Kim Montgomery, who will be on-site in Peoria until the completion of the fund drive.

Father Henehan acknowledged that this campaign might stretch parishioners, but said there is a plan in place to handle any contingency.

“There is no failure on this project,” he said, “just a matter of how much victory we can claim.”

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
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