Published January 5th, 2022 at 12:01 PM
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, a landmark church that pre-dates downtown, has launched a $14 million campaign to build a new parish hall and renovate space for its breakfast program for the homeless.
The brick Cathedral at 11th Street and Broadway with its landmark gold dome steeple traces its roots to a frontier log church built at the site in 1835 by Jesuit missionaries. The current Cathedral, seat of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, opened in 1880.
The new facilities are intended to help the church continue to flourish in the 21st century, serving a growing number of Catholics who are part of the downtown residential revival and continuing to provide meals for the homeless through its Morning Glory Ministries.
“We’re very proud of the Gold Dome on the skyline and feel like we’re part of the downtown fabric,” said the Rev. Paul Turner, pastor of the Cathedral parish.
“The Cathedral has been a place for worship, community service and faith development, and we can provide all that downtown.”
The “Building Glory” campaign is intended to fund the renovation of the existing rectory building located on 12th Street into a new home for Morning Glory. The program provides social services and a full breakfast to more than 100 homeless people six days a week.
“This purpose-built facility will accommodate all the current services and planned expansions of the mission to help this needy population for decades to come,” according to the Building Glory website.
The Morning Glory program currently operates out of Donnelly Hall on Broadway. The building originally was a parish school and was converted to community space, a prep kitchen and offices years ago.
The new Morning Glory facility is intended to provide a better experience for homeless people, who currently lineup outdoors on Broadway before being admitted for breakfast. The new space will allow for shorter waits outside, according to the website.
The plan also calls for the demolition of the existing Donnelly Hall and its replacement with a new Donnelly Hall connected to the Cathedral that will include an event space for 300- to 400 people, a welcome center and gift shop.
The two-story, 13,000-square-foot building will also house parish offices, meeting rooms, a reception area, a bridal room, a catered kitchen and additional storage, according to the Building Glory website.
The new hall also is intended to an “evangelization center” for the downtown population.
“It will be an epicenter of Catholic formation directed primarily at the 30,000 and growing new downtown residents, most of whom are in their thirties and forties,” according to the website.
Turner said the Cathedral has seen an influx of members paralleling the growing downtown population of the past 10- 15 years.
“We believe it will continue,” he said. “We’re one of the few Catholic Churches in the area where young adults like to worship. We have more members in the 20s-30s range than any other church.”
Turner said the church decided to raze the old Donnelly Hall rather than renovate it because of its deteriorated condition and an existing layout that didn’t meet the needs of the parish.
The architect is SFS Architecture and the contractor will be J.E. Dunn Construction.
The Cathedral already has raised about 45% of its $14 million capital campaign goal, with about $1.8 million coming from parishioners. The Cathedral counts about 700 households, although only about half attend services regularly.
The Cathedral, however, by its nature as the center for much larger Kansas Diocese, has many additional visitors and worshippers.
“The nature of the Cathedral is it serves a purpose larger than the people who come here regularly to worship,” Turner said.
As for a timetable when construction could begin, the pastor said it depends on the success of the Building Glory campaign.
“We’d love things to converge in 2022, but it will take some major fundraising,” he said.
Flatland contributor Kevin Collison is the founder of CityScene KC, an online source for downtown news and issues.