Multipurpose gymnasium planned at Immaculate Conception, Monmouth

An architect's sketch of the new gymnasium planned for Immaculate Conception School in Monmouth that will be among the projects funded by a $3 million capital campaign announced May 1.

MONMOUTH — A new multipurpose gymnasium to serve Immaculate Conception Catholic School as well as parish families in the bi-county region is the major focus of a $3 million capital campaign announced May 1.

The new gym will be named for Msgr. Thomas Mack, pastor emeritus, who guided the faith community from 1991 to 1997 and again from 2012 to 2021.

The announcement of the name selection capped an afternoon campaign launch event and “made everyone excited,” said Father Timothy Hepner, present pastor.

Plans announced May 1 also call for a new connecting corridor, parking lot, prayer garden, and playground, all expanding the existing school campus to the north.

Father Hepner said “people were very moved” at the launch event, which included a meal and program in the current school gym. The theme of capital campaign is “Building Our Future in Faith — Bring the Mission Forward.”

“WE’RE BURSTING AT THE SEAMS”

“This is not just a campaign to build a gym,” said Father Hepner in a promotional letter also signed by Randy Frakes, principal and athletic director at Immaculate Conception School. “It’s a step forward in building up our future so that more families can encounter Jesus.”

The new gym — which will also include locker rooms, a concession area, a lobby, and restrooms — is “the solution to a very good problem . . . we’re bursting at the seams and we need more space,” said Father Hepner and Frakes in their letter. It will allow the parish and school to have simultaneous activities, avoiding late-night practices. The new gym may also lead to the school hosting Illinois Elementary School Association regional or sectional volleyball and basketball tournaments, and can serve as the site for the annual school auction, Christmas program, and spring play.

The master of ceremonies at the campaign launch was Lucy Thompson, whose daughter Belle is an Immaculate Conception School graduate now headed to the University of Notre Dame. Speakers included Dr. Robert Ayers, who shared stories about his children’s experiences playing in the current gym; Dan Byers, whose family is donating the prayer garden in honor of his mother, Barb; and Emma Parkins, a college student who spoke about her time at Immaculate Conception School and its impact on her faith and life.

A project overview was given by Ringland Johnson Design Plus. The capital campaign is being planned with assistance from Joseph Consulting of Bettendorf, Iowa.

“My dream for the students at ICS is continued success and for us to be able to give them everything they need to be successful in life — in their faith, and what they’re going to do in the future,” said Frakes in a five-minute promotional video shown at the event. The video, which also features current students and school parents, may be viewed on the school website.

Father Hepner said the campaign builds on work begun by Msgr. Mack and it was announced that more than $1 million has already been received or allocated for the project.

“I’m 100-percent confident that God will bless what we do, if we turn it over to Him,” said Father Hepner.

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