Bishop Siegel blesses and dedicates new activity center at St. John the Evangelist, Daylight

Father Chris Forler, pastor of St. John in Daylight, far right, leads Bishop Siegel through the parish’s new activity center for blessing. Also pictured is Matt Miller, left of bishop, diocesan director of the Office of Worship, who is assisting Bishop Siegel. Megan Erbacher photo

By Megan Erbacher

The Message editor

After more than five years of planning, St. John the Evangelist Parish in Daylight recently celebrated their new activity center.

On March 2, Bishop Joseph M. Siegel celebrated Mass at St. John. Father Chris Forler, pastor of St. John, concelebrated Mass with the bishop.

During his homily, Bishop Siegel noted the warmer weather brings with it spring cleaning, which is a time we go beyond the daily dusting and vacuuming and go deeper throughout the house in getting rid of unused items. He said we sometimes need the same type of spring cleaning with our spiritual lives. We may be good at keeping our lives in order, keeping the commandments and avoiding the big sins, he explained, but like our homes, as neat as our lives might be, things creep in. That’s why we need the season of Lent, Bishop Siegel said, a time for spiritual spring cleaning.

After Mass, Bishop Siegel, along with Father Chris, Deacon Richard Leibundguth and Matt Miller, diocesan director of the Office of Worship, walked into the new activity center. Bishop Siegel then blessed and dedicated the new gathering space, which was filled with parishioners.

After much work and prayer by the members of St. John, Bishop Siegel said the new activity center will be a place where parishioners can come to know each other and give witness to their faith in Christ. May the word of God always echo from these walls, he prayed.

Bishop Siegel echoed Father Chris’s gratitude to all who made the building a reality through their commitment, generosity and prayers.

During his blessing, Bishop Siegel said it was with praise and thanksgiving he asked God to bless the new space and all who will use it. He continued and prayed that all who use the building know the presence of Christ, experience the joy of his friendship and grow in his love.

Bishop Siegel then walked through the three floors of the new activity center and sprinkled holy water.

The building committee consisted of Father Chris, Donal and Ginger Gogarty, Betty Herr, Mark Hoffman and Tom Kassenbrock. Tim Henning of Architecture Plus in Evansville was the architect for the facility, and Empire Contractors, Inc. of Evansville served as the general contractor.

Ginger Gogarty, far left, St. John parishioner and building committee member, wants the new library to be a peaceful, comfortable space. Megan Erbacher photo

Father Chris said Henning designed St. John Church when it was built in 1986, “so it’s kind of like coming back and tying the bow if you will.”

The new building is about 20,000 square feet, which includes three floors. The main floor includes several meeting rooms, a small kitchen, preschool classrooms which will allow for at least two classes as well as before and after school care, a new library and space for bridal parties. The second floor, which isn’t yet complete, will offer more meeting space and bathrooms, while the third floor will serve as storage space.

Father Chris offered thanks at the end of Mass to Bishop Siegel and all of the parishioners who were instrumental in the new activity center and those who donated their services.

“It's been a long time coming,” he said. “We started the process of planning back in 2018, but I know that probably 10 years before that we knew we had an issue with space and being able to do all the things we need to do as a parish. We had the temporary measure for quite a long time, but it was temporary. Now, we don’t have to worry about that. … We have something that will be here hopefully for generations.”

Donal and Ginger Gogarty have been St. John parishioners for 14 years. Donal said it’s been a “long but enjoyable process.” He’s excited that the building allows for continued growth to “pass on the faith and to allow families to grow and develop and learn their faith. It’s nice to have a facility where they can readily do that.”

Donal especially noted the crucifix on top of the building that faces Boonville-New Harmony Road, which is lit up at night. He said it was made in Italy and shipped to Indiana. 

“We wanted folks to know this is where Christ is,” he said. “This is a Catholic assembly 

And if they drive by Boonville-New Harmony Road, you can’t help but glance up. It’s not a cross, it’s a crucifix, and that’s a difference you don’t see much. We hope to invite people in.”

For the library, Ginger wanted to create a quiet, comfortable space where people could check out a book or read in quiet. Two parishioners built the bookshelves, which she said was a blessing.

“It’s going to be a great place for all of the old archived books and pictures from the original St. John out in the country,” she said. “It’s just a place of peace and hopefully enlightenment.”

Ginger said the completion of the building and first floor is “bittersweet.”

“It’s been a lot of fun,” she said. “It’s been a blessing. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

After the blessing and dedication, parishioners and guests enjoyed appetizers, desserts and fellowship, as well as tours of the new space.