Mass marks new chapter
Sacred Heart’s new worship center ‘a beacon’
News of the Sacred Heart Parish Center becoming a reality should travel later this month across the Atlantic Ocean all the way to Rome.
More specifically, the Vatican.
Archbishop James Patrick Keleher, of the Kansas City, Kan., archdiocese, was in Tonganoxie to bless the cornerstone of the parish center and take part in the inaugural Mass. He will be in Rome for a conference of bishops around Thanksgiving when he plans to tell Pope John Paul II what was accomplished in Tonganoxie's parish.
"You've got to be very proud of what your church has accomplished here," Keleher told parishioners and guests Sunday. "You have built a beautiful worship center."
The event attracted an estimated 450 to 500 parishioners and guests. Rev. Mark Goldasich and Keleher officiated Mass to a standing-room only congregation.
Some in attendance even had to sit in chairs in the back hallway because of the large crowd.
But everyone in the parish center heard loud and clear what Sunday meant for the growing parish.
Although the church that's stood on River Street for more than 100 years will no longer be the home to Sacred Heart, a new era has begun. The church now will begin a new tradition on a prominent spot along U.S. Highway 24-40 -- complete with Hubbel Hill as its backdrop.
After the Mass, Keleher said the location was a prime site for the parish.
It's a tract of land the Kansas City, Kan., Archdiocese purchased a few years ago that Sacred Heart now can start buying back.
Keleher said the parish center is a beacon that will stand out in the community.
"It's a very high-quality facility," Keleher said.
As Goldasich said during Mass, it's been a long road, but the center now is ready.
"We've been meeting for 60 years now, it seems like," Goldasich said, referring to the building committee.
It was a Mass filled with the traditional readings, a choir and a homily, courtesy of the archbishop, but there were plenty of laughs and thank-yous expressed as well.
"Thanks to the finance council," Goldasich said with his signature chuckle. "Basically they were good at saying 'no.'
"We still like them."
Goldasich also thanked the parish council for their many hours of contribution, along with building committee member Russ Kimberlin, who received a standing ovation. Goldasich also thanked many others who were instrumental in the parish center's construction.
"And especially, thank you for the loan," Goldasich said to Keleher with a big smile.
The parish center will not be the permanent home to church services. Phase II, which will consist of the permanent church, is next on the list.
In the next few years, another capital campaign will be developed to finance that $3 million phase.
The original phase, however, also has classrooms, offices and a full-size kitchen. Along with Mass, the center also will be used for church gatherings -- such as the reception following Mass that transformed the sanctuary into a dining area.
And now, larger weddings won't have to be celebrated at a nearby parish because the parish has more room.
Although it serves many purposes, the center still retains the look of a sanctuary, as the altar was brought from the former church.
Goldasich, who arrived in Tonganoxie in 1991, is just thankful he could see the complete process of the new center.
"So many times, especially in my work, you plant the seed and then you don't see the fruits," Goldasich said. "It's nice to see the finished product."
Just before the Mass ended, Goldasich wanted to make sure everyone realized what they had accomplished.
He asked the congregation to put a hand in the air and turn it to the back of the church.
Then he told everyone to pat themselves on the back.