By Kevin Collison
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception held a ground breaking ceremony last week for its new parish center at 11th and Broadway, part of its “Building Glory” redevelopment plan that’s also relocating its homeless breakfast ministry.
Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr., leader of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, participated in the event. The new building will replace Donnelly Hall, the former Cathedral school that had been housing the Morning Glory breakfast ministry.
Diocese officials said they’ve obtained $10.8 million in contributions and pledges toward their Building Glory goal of $14.4 million, enough to proceed with building the two-story 19,000 square foot, parish center.
“So many have shared their excitement with us, with their pledges and with their words,” Johnston said in a statement.
“Many have shared that they see the potential this has for the Cathedral, but also for downtown Kansas City. We want to be an enthusiastic part of the good things happening down here.”
The brick Cathedral with its striking gold dome steeple traces its roots to a frontier log church built at the site in 1835 by Jesuit missionaries. The current Cathedral opened in 1880.
The Morning Glory program is being relocated to the basement level of The Catholic Center, the historic former New York Life Building, at 20 W. Ninth St.
The program currently serves breakfast to about 100 individuals four days a week, and offers lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Once at The Catholic Center, the plan is to serve breakfast five days a week between 7 – 9 a.m.
The Building Glory capital improvement program originally had planned to renovate the rectory on the Cathedral campus at 416 W. 12th St. for Morning Glory, but dropped that idea after officials said they received “pushback” from people and businesses in the area.
The decision to move the ministry to the Catholic Center also was criticized by some neighboring residents and businesses, and the Downtown Council.
Church officials say the new location will allow them to operate the ministry with more dignity for its participants while still respecting the neighborhood.
The new facility will utilize the former cafeteria and dining area used by UtiliCorp, which renovated the 132 year-old building to be its headquarters in 1998.
Patrons will enter the basement level via a ramp at the back of the building and be able to congregate inside out of the elements before the breakfast service begins.
John Kraus, the administrator for Morning Glory, also said the ministry’s emergency outreach program which provides clothing, documents and hygiene services to the homeless will remain in the new parish hall.
“It’s important to note, it’s only the café that’s coming here, not the emergency services,” Kraus said.
The Morning Glory ministry is expected to begin operation this spring.
Construction on the new parish center is expected to begin by late winter or early spring. The project will require the demolition of all the buildings on the Cathedral campus except the church itself.
The New Donnelly Hall will be connected to the church and have an event space for 300- to 400 people. It also will include parish offices, meeting rooms, a reception area, a bridal room, a catered kitchen and additional storage.
The expanded parking lot will be designed to improve visibility of the Cathedral church and make it more accessible, according to church officials.
The New Donnelly Hall is expected to be completed by Spring 2024.
“The whole Building Glory plan is to help the Cathedral to continue offering its social ministries as will as providing space for worship, catechism and evangelization,” said the Rev. Paul Turner, pastor of Cathedral parish.
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