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Lifestyles

February 18, 2012

Growing faith: St. Mary of the Knobs has room to flourish with new church building

FLOYDS KNOBS — Wow.

That may be the best way to describe St. Mary of the Knobs’ new home. It’s a word St. Mary’s priest, the Rev. Mike Hilderbrand, expects to hear a lot in the next few months about the under-construction church.

“It’s a term I think people will use for a long time,” he said while glancing at the interior of the structure.

Construction crews are putting the finishing touches on the new church, which will be dedicated at 2 p.m., March 25, with a Mass which will include the bishop and several visiting priests. The new church will replace the one built in 1907, which seats 350 people. The new church seats 964 and helps accommodate the tremendous growth the parish has experienced in recent years.

“This is for future generations, just like that church was built for that generation,” Hilderbrand said.

HOW THEY GOT HERE

It’s taken a lot of work and effort to get to this point, according to both Hilderbrand and J. Patrick Byrne, a member of the church’s executive committee. The idea of building a new church or activities center was first brought up in 2005 when a parishioner donated 33 acres of land adjacent to the current church off St. Mary’s Road. In 2006, under the leadership of the Rev. John Geis, who has since retired, a fundraising effort began.

“In April of 2006 we met with Father John and the archbishop [Daniel Buechlein]. The archbishop shared with us that it was his vision to build a new church and activities center on the property,” Byrne said. “We put together a feasibility study and it was about 50/50 among members ... some members said we needed a new church and others wanted an activities center. We decided to do it all together instead of two stages.”

A capital campaign got under way in 2007. To date, the church has received $11 million in pledges with $7 million already collected. The church borrowed money from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis to build the two structures and Byrne hopes to have the loan and all of the pledges collected by 2018.

Two Floyd County construction companies — Koetter Construction and AML Inc. — teamed up on the project. Koetter is constructing the church while AML Inc. built the Geis Activities Center, named after the church’s former priest. It opened last year and includes a basketball court and walking track. Owners of both companies are members of the church.

“Everyone has worked together and within the budget,” Byrne said. “We are really blessed, both the Bob Libs family [AML] and Koetter family are very involved and active in the parish.”

Byrne said the two facilities were built with the “vision of the parish” in mind.

“We were very careful, and documented everyone’s concerns. We wanted the parish members to take ownership in this project,” he said.

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