<p><strong>OLP Church and School held a ground-breaking ceremony Sunday at the site of its expansion, where excavation is underway. Pictured in the center is Father Michael Kaluza. Others near the front row were OLP Principal Mindy Reeder, Pat Schroers, Phil Fisher, Matt Saxe, Kevin O&rsquo;Brien, Joe Huber, Connie Chard, Leroy Chard and Belle Plaine Mayor Mike Pingalore. Not everyone in the photo could be identified prior to Tuesday&rsquo;s press time. Other attendees included several members of the Belle Plaine Knights of Columbus (far left).</strong></p>
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OLP Church and School held a ground-breaking ceremony Sunday at the site of its expansion, where excavation is underway. Pictured in the center is Father Michael Kaluza. Others near the front row were OLP Principal Mindy Reeder, Pat Schroers, Phil Fisher, Matt Saxe, Kevin O’Brien, Joe Huber, Connie Chard, Leroy Chard and Belle Plaine Mayor Mike Pingalore. Not everyone in the photo could be identified prior to Tuesday’s press time. Other attendees included several members of the Belle Plaine Knights of Columbus (far left).


Our Lady of the Prairie Catholic Church and School in Belle Plaine held an impromptu ground-breaking for its new parish life center on Sunday.

OLP is constructing an 11,335-square-foot addition on the southeast side of the existing church. The addition will be used as a gathering space, more offices and six classrooms. The existing school building, one of Belle Plaine’s oldest structures, will be demolished after completion of the new building.

The estimated total cost of the project is $1.8 million, much of which was raised by various fund-raisers by the church and its members. Current plans are to complete construction in April 2014.

Our Lady of the Prairie serves more than 550 households in Belle Plaine and surrounding communities with both a church and Catholic school from pre-K through sixth grade.

According to OLP Pastor Father Michael Kaluza, the number of educational and faith formation programs offered by the parish has increased dramatically in recent years, and the facility’s ability to support all activities has been challenging.

Father Kaluza said the last major investment in physical space was made in 1957 when the Holy Childhood Building (originally a convent but later converted to education space) was added across the street.  Father Kaluza said “the new Parish Life Center will better meet our ability to serve current parishioners and grow a brighter and more hopeful and sustained future.”

Kaluza added that the new Parish Life Center will have more flexible, multi-purpose meeting room space that will accommodate a variety of groups and events, allowing for more activities as well as the K-6 Education Day Program and OLP’s afternoon and evening faith formation (PREP) program.

Cosmetic remodel activities have already begun in the Holy Childhood Building. The new Parish Life Center will include a large gathering space for many activities, an Adoration Chapel, multi-use classroom style space, office and conference space as well as new modern handicap accessibility that will connect directly into the church. 

Father Kaluza said he “is grateful for the generosity and enthusiasm of parishioners to create the space OLP needs to spread the gospel in Belle Plaine.”

“The new building is a great blessing for our campus and for our parish family,” Father Kaluza said.