Groundbreaking held for JPII Parish's new church - construction could begin this year

by Jacqueline Burkepile

Correspondent

April 22, 2015

A view of St. John Paul II Parish's future church building. (Photo by Donna Ryckeart / NTC)

On Saturday, April 11, a new chapter began for St. John Paul II Catholic Church in Denton. The parish celebrated the groundbreaking for its new chapel and campus center, which primarily serves students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University.

The parish hosted the event in the current campus center’s backyard. Students from UNT kicked off the event with live music, followed by a welcome from Father Kyle Walterscheid, pastor of St. John Paul II Parish. The Very Rev. Karl Schilken, Vicar General for the Diocese of Fort Worth, then offered an opening address and prayer for the new project.

“Campus Ministry has to be a major priority of the diocese,” Fr. Schilken said. “It has to be a major force in what we’re trying to do to evangelize to the young and proclaim the Gospel to them. The work we begin today should enliven our faith and make us grateful.”

The 12,000 square-foot Italian Renaissance-style church will cost $2.7 million and will sit on 1.5 acres of land across the street from UNT. The church will have two floors: the first floor containing six offices, four meeting areas, and a large kitchen, and the second floor containing the chapel, which will comfortably seat 160 people.

However, St. John Paul II needs to have pledges totaling 50 percent of the total cost in order to begin construction. They currently have $1.2 million pledged, meaning the parish needs an additional $164,500 before construction can begin. Their hope is to begin the project by August with the design-build company SREIC Companies Real Estate Development & Brokerage.

Fr. Walterscheid said the parish desperately needs a new facility because the current building is only 1,600 square feet, which is too small for its students and parishioners. The chapel overflows during daily Mass, and there is no room for parishioners to park. The result is many people are often unable to attend daily Mass.

“We’ve reached our maximum capacity to grow,” he said. “In fact, we’re stunted in our growth this year. We can’t get a bigger parish base because we have no room for them.”

Following the clergy’s introductory remarks, several parish representatives made statements about the new church.

Audry Salvador, a communications junior at UNT, said she is “stoked” about St. John Paul II’s plans to build a new church and campus center. She said the Catholic Center has made a vast impact on her life, and she is grateful to all those who have supported it.

“Through this Catholic Center, I’ve really learned that it’s not just through the people, it’s through the sacraments and my own personal faith in Christ that He allowed me to push my own borders and actually act as the Gospel says,” Salvador said.

UNT journalism professor Samra Bufkins emphasized the importance of a parish community and daily faith life.

“This parish will bring everybody associated with the universities together,” Bufkins said. “Every time we see each other…we are reminded that we are one body in Christ. We become more comfortable living out the Gospel of Jesus knowing that we are not alone in handling the stresses, bureaucracies, and challenges of college life.”

Immediately following these parishioners’ testimonies, Fr. Schilken blessed and led the ceremonial groundbreaking. Those in attendance then proceeded to the Catholic Center for a reception.

Patrice Briggs, a junior studying psychology at TWU, said the groundbreaking ceremony was beautiful, and is excited for the building of the new church because there will be more room for growth.

“Father Kyle's efforts are definitely appreciated,” Briggs said. “The students who shared their testimonies really were the voices of the college student population. It helped the audience see how much the parish affects our lives. St. John Paul II has done so much with limited resources. Imagining the future of the new church is almost mind-blowing. It will be a beautiful sight to see.”

If you would like to donate to St. John Paul II Catholic Church, please visit jp2denton.org, or make checks payable to the parish and mail them to 1303 Eagle Dr., Denton, Texas 76201.

On Saturday, April 11, a new chapter began for St. John Paul II Catholic Church in Denton. The parish celebrated the groundbreaking for its new chapel and campus center, which primarily serves students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University. 

Published (until 12/12/2031)
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