Pastoral Center opens

NEW ULM – The Roman Catholic Diocese of New Ulm is ready to open its new Pastoral Center at 5th North Street and Highland Avenue, on budget and only a little past schedule.

The bishop of New Ulm, the Most Reverend John M. LeVoir, and his staff will host an open house on Friday, Aug. 1 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the new Pastoral Center, located off the north corner of 5th Street North and Highland Avenue in New Ulm. The event will include group tours and refreshments. All are welcome to attend.

On Wednesday, sod was being laid on the lawn outside, windows were being washed and pictures were being hung inside in preparation for the opening.

The new Pastoral Center serves as headquarters for LeVoir and his staff, who serve about 60,000 Catholics in west-central Minnesota. At 28,320 square feet, the two-story structure (which includes a finished basement) houses 30 offices, five conference rooms, three workrooms and a chapel.

It is the chapel that people will notice first as they enter the main entrance. The chapel is located across a spacious foyer, its clear glass doors highlighted by wrought iron arch shapes that hint at their function. The chapel is LeVoir’s favorite feature of the new Pastoral Center.

“The chapel is the first thing you see when you enter the building. It tells you this is an office building, but it is a Catholic office building. It shows the Eucharist is at the center of what we do here. It radiates through the whole building, and throughout the whole diocese.”

The bishop celebrates a weekly staff mass, and the chapel is available at any time for staff members or visitors to stop and pray.

At the dedication on Friday, Bishop LeVoir will celebrate a mass on the front lawn in the morning for a special group of invited guests, people who had much to do with the construction of the building. After the mass, he will lead a procession into the Chapel, where the Eucharist will be placed in the tabernacle.

The center replaces the original Pastoral Center, built not far from the new location when the diocese was created over 50 years ago. Over the years the building had started to deteriorate. It was shifting on the ground, causing cracks in the concrete and stress fractures in the walls. The utility conduits had all been buried in concrete, making it difficult and expensive to repair as they began to deteriorate. Office space was tight, and the wiring, put in before computer networks were envisioned, was inadequate.

LeVoir said plans for a new building had been started under his predecessor, Bishop John Nienstedt.

In the new building, all staff – there are 28 full-time equivalent positions in the diocese – have their own office space. There are several features the old building did not have, like extra conference space, teaching areas and work space. The finished basement even contains a special room for the diocese’s archives.

During the open house on Friday, LeVoir said visitors will have a chance to see not only the new building, but also to learn about the variety of offices housed there and their functions.

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