St. Joseph Church awaits archdiocese’s final approval for its planned fellowship hall

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By Stephanie Hornback

The planned fellowship hall for the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral will not only change the campus’ landscape, it will also provide more meeting space for the Bardstown-Nelson County community.

The 11,500-square-foot facility has not received final approval from the Archdiocese of Louisville, but the Rev. William Hammer, pastor of St. Joseph, said he wasn’t anticipating any problems.

Hammer, who has been at St. Joseph since 2005, said the need for a fellowship hall was one of the first matters brought to his attention in terms of a parish wish list.

“It was a pretty apparent need that was made known to me quickly upon my arrival,” he said.

The need to renovate or build an addition to St. Joseph School was also highlighted, and money was raised for both projects through the “A Time to Build” campaign, which began in 2007. Almost $5 million was contributed for the school and fellowship hall. The $3.3 million school expansion and renovation was completed in 2008. Hammer is waiting on final construction documents before he will know the cost of the fellowship hall.

The facility will be behind the school close to Flaget Hall. The drop-off of land toward the Bardstown Recreation Center will be used to create two floors without the need for expensive excavation work, which would have been a necessity at another location the parish considered for its fellowship hall — the baseball field beside the school. The planning committee decided using the baseball field would hamper future expansion, Hammer said. The area may eventually be used for parking.

The committee also looked at sites off church property but decided having the hall close to the church would be convenient for such events as wedding receptions or bereavement meals, Hammer said.

Kenny Kute, chairman of the parish facilities committee and a St. Joseph parishioner since 1988, said those who provide bereavement services are especially happy about the new fellowship hall.

“Our bereavement teams, who are very active with our parish, have always had to serve the bereaved families either in the (Knights of Columbus) hall or the cafeteria at the school,” he said. Scheduling conflicts sometimes arise, he said.

Kute said a fellowship hall director will schedule events, which will not be limited to the parish. Hammer said the facility will seat 400 people and larger rooms can be subdivided to create separate space.

“We also plan to have a 50-person or so meeting room that we would be willing to make available to the larger community,” Hammer said.

Another key feature of the new hall is two preschool classrooms in addition to the two already at St. Joseph School. Hammer said the school’s preschool program is going well and needs room to expand.

Small athletic endeavors, such as adult volleyball games, will also be possible in the fellowship hall’s reception area, which will have a high ceiling. Hammer emphasized, however, that the primary use of the area will be receptions. The gym at the school was renovated through “A Time to Build,” but if it isn’t available, the fellowship hall could be a second option, he said.

The accomplishment of the school expansion/renovation and new fellowship hall is even more meaningful in a tough economy, Kute said, especially considering the fellowship hall followed the school project so closely.

“We’re really fortunate,” Kute said. “Many of the families and school personnel have come forward to support this.”

Studio Kremer, which has headed several projects for local school districts, is the architectural firm for the project. After final approval, which should come this month, construction of the hall will take about eight months depending on the weather, Hammer said.