For years, parking was a major headache at St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center, 1631 Crescent Road.
A new, two-level parking facility offering spaces for 174 cars -- at a cost of about $3 million -- was completed in July after a little more than a year's work.
Students and staff were able to begin using the facility in early June, something that's already proved to be a blessing.
In the summer, there are four weekend Masses at St. Lawrence, and that number increases to five during the academic year.
The facility is significantly easing the parking crunch during the center's busy times.
"It seems to be working very well on Sundays; there's adequate parking now," said the Rev. Vince Krische, St. Lawrence's longtime director.
"It's a little hard to tell (the facility's impact) right now, because even our old parking lot was sufficient in the summertime. But the real test will come during school."
The facility isn't only good for the Catholic center. It appears the whole neighborhood will benefit from its attractively landscaped presence.
"We were always short on parking, and it's going to just make it more convenient for people coming to church. It will keep people from parking on the street, and it's actually a really beautiful parking facility," Krische said.
The structure offers covered parking for 120 cars on the lower level, sheltering them from heat, ice and snow.
"The other thing that's happened is that we have a whole new entrance -- a patio area between the parking facility and the sanctuary -- that's much more friendly and welcoming," he said.
"Everybody comments on it. All the landscaping is finished, the plantings are in and the sod has taken hold."
The center is planning to have a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 5:15 p.m. Thursday to inaugurate the parking facility.
|Lawrence is a friendly place for Kansas University students of diverse backgrounds who are looking for a faith community to call home. Here is a list of faith communities that seem to draw steady participation of KU students:¢ Victory Bible Church, 1942 Mass., 841-3437.¢ First Baptist Church, 1330 Kasold Drive, 843-0020.¢ Ninth Street Baptist Church, 847 Ohio, 843-5828.¢ Mustard Seed Christian Fellowship, 700 Wakarusa Drive, 841-5685.¢ Christ Community Church, 1100 Kasold Drive, 842-7600.¢ Heartland Community Church, 619 Vt., 832-1845.¢ St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, 5700 W. Sixth St., 843-5777.¢ Islamic Center of Lawrence, 1917 Naismith Drive, 749-1638.¢ Lawrence Jewish Community Center, 917 Highland Drive, 841-7636.¢ Immanuel Lutheran Church & University Student Center, 15th and Iowa, 843-0620.¢ Morning Star Christian Church, 998 N. 1771 Road, 312-9200.¢ Grace Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 3312 Calvin Drive, 843-2005.¢ First United Methodist Church, 946 Vt., 841-7500.|
"I know the students will be thrilled when they come back (to school) and see it," Krische said.
The parking addition isn't the only expansion going on at St. Lawrence to accommodate growth in its student-outreach programs.
Next will come a 15,000-square-foot, three-level education building that will be built facing Crescent Road.
It will feature a lecture hall, library, computer center, offices and a choir practice room.
Construction is set to begin in spring 2004. The building will cost between $2.5 million and $3 million.
"We're hoping for next year in March, but the date of the ground-breaking is not determined yet," Krische said.
The center plans to allocate $11 million for these purposes: construction of the new education building; funding for the Professorship in Roman Catholic Thought at Kansas University; operating expenses for the center for the past two years; and funding for St. Lawrence's endowment.
Broad foundation of support
The center, which is the Catholic Church's ministry to the KU community -- students, faculty and staff -- is a busy place.
KU has approximately 25,000 students, and Krische estimated that 6,000 to 8,000 of them identify themselves as Catholics.
About 2,500 of KU's Catholic students attend Masses regularly at the center, and about 1,100 of them participate in one of the 47 service, social or spiritual programs St. Lawrence offers.
Three hundred KU students are taking catechetical or theological classes at the center.
Each year, St. Lawrence offers 42 merit or need-based scholarships totaling $94,000.
The center has an annual operating budget of about $1.5 million, while a good-sized operating budget for a typical Catholic campus ministry is closer to between $400,000 and $500,000, according to John Flynn, director of institutional advancement at St. Lawrence.
Ninety percent of the center's financial support comes from an extensive network of individuals, corporations and foundations located outside of Lawrence, Flynn said.