By Brian Ojanpa
Free Press Staff Writer
NEW ULM — With a new pastoral center no longer a want but a need for the Catholic Diocese of New Ulm, work will begin this month on a $7.5 million facility adjacent to the existing building.
“It looks good from the outside, but the inside of the building has been compromised,” Bishop John LeVoir said of the 1960 structure fraught with faulty wiring, leaky pipes and other infrastructure shortcomings.
In 2011 the diocese launched a $15 million capital campaign to raise funds for the new center. Half that amount will go to the center and the other half will be used for projects at the diocese’s 76 parishes.
So far, $12 6 million has been raised in what LeVoir calls a “double-purpose” fundraising effort.
“I told people I didn’t come here to build a new pastoral center, but we have to,” said LeVoir, who was installed as bishop in 2008.
The existing center off North Highland Avenue was built as a bishop’s residence and office building for a small number of diocesan officials.
Now it houses more than 20 offices dedicated to a variety of diocesan programs.
The new building will be 100 yards away and, at more than 28,000 square feet, slightly larger than the existing facility. It will have 30 offices, five conference rooms, three workrooms and a chapel.
A study several years ago concluded that renovating the center would cost the same or slightly more than building a new one.
The new center will be completed in spring 2014 and the existing center will be razed.
The Diocese of New Ulm serves 15 counties in west-central Minnesota.