May 2, 2008

Catholic News Around Indiana: Diocese of Lafayette

Architectural plans are unveiled for St. John Vianney Parish in Fishers

Parishioners Felix and Laurel Gorney look over the models unveiled for St. John Vianney Parish in Fishers on April 19. “You couldn’t ask for more in a church,” Felix Gorney said of the plans. (Photo by Caroline B. Mooney)

Parishioners Felix and Laurel Gorney look over the models unveiled for St. John Vianney Parish in Fishers on April 19. “You couldn’t ask for more in a church,” Felix Gorney said of the plans. (Photo by Caroline B. Mooney)

By Caroline B. Mooney (The Catholic Moment)

FISHERS—If prayers are answered, 109 acres that are now an empty field will become home to a magnificent church and campus complex over the next 20 years.

St. John Vianney Parish, established in 2005, unveiled architectural plans at an evening celebrating the parish vision on April 19.

A medieval-style church building and parish life center joined by cloistered walkways, a youth center, pre-kindergarten through grade-eight school, a high school, rectory, convent and athletic complex are part of the plans revealed to 260 parishioners and supporters of the parish. The site is at State Road 238 and 126th Street in Fishers.

“I’m excited,” said Al Atherton, a founding member of the parish. “This is a big milestone. The plans look great, like a lot of Catholic churches [that] I remember from when I was young.”

When St. John Vianney Parish was established, people met in homes for weekday and Sunday Masses. The parish moved into a converted office building at

14500 E. 136th St. in December 2005, and Father Brian Dudzinski was formally installed as pastor on Jan. 8, 2006. There are 170 families currently registered.

At the celebration, Father Dudzinski said the parish vision is to do God’s will.

“We want to build God’s kingdom with God’s Church,” he said. “We started the campaign a year ago, and the building committee has met every two weeks for the last year.

“The architects have taken what the building committee said and all has been done through prayer and hard work,” Father Dudzinski said. “We want to give honor and glory to God, and we want God to be proud. … It’s not really the building, it’s the people, but the building will attract the people and be a true place of devotion, prayer and worship.”

He said the time frame of the building plans is flexible and contingent on money and on the people. Plans are to first build a parish life center that will provide both a worship space and offices, and can accommodate 500 to 900 people at an estimated cost of $2.5 million.

“We are ready to grow by leaps and bounds,” Father Dudzinski said. “In the fall, we will have a kickoff campaign for the parish life center and our youth building. … This is not just a pipe dream. It’s a matter of being open and patient. It will take one to three years to raise the money and build the parish life center; the church goal is five to seven years. If we get the money sooner, it will help to facilitate the process.”

Architects Mike Montgomery and Stuart Godfrey, both of

K.R. Montgomery and Associates, Inc., an architecture and interior design firm from Anderson, spoke about the planning process.

“We had town hall meetings called ‘Postcards from the Future,’ on two different occasions,” Montgomery said. “Parishioners were asked to think about visiting the parish for the first time, and then were to write down what they saw. All those ideas were grouped and looked at in the planning process.”

“I have really been inspired by Father Dudzinski’s faith, passion and commitment,” Godfrey said. “The Catholic identity and presence will be strong as you enter the campus. The location of the church needs to be highly visible and reinforces the idea of entering into a state of worship. Plans include walkways with Stations of the Cross that will terminate into a grotto. We want to create an opportunity to have moments of reflection, spiritual thought and prayer.”

Ethan Anthony of HDB/Cram & Ferguson, an architectural company from Boston, designed the proposed 1,500-seat church.

“The site plan concentrates on the church, it is the center around which everything else is formed,” Anthony said. “The parish life center and the church will be connected by cloistered walkways that go back to early monastic architecture. The church design is in a cruciform, or cross shape, like that used during the medieval period. As you enter into the church, you are entering into the body of Christ.”

The first time that Anthony went to the site of the new church with Father Dudzinski, “there was still a lot of corn there. Father Dudzinski pointed and said, ‘There’s where I want the church.’ He wants to be sure that as you drive in from [State Road 238], the first thing you see is the church.

“We want a very high elevation—55-foot high vaulted ceilings will allow thoughts to go upward to heaven,” Anthony said. “The traditional idea of the front of a church is a gate to heaven, and the church will have a sense of elevated space, a sense of the exalted.”

The church plans include a circle of devotional chapels, an adoration chapel, a balcony and a lower level with a walkout to a lake, meeting spaces and a kitchen.

Parishioner and building committee member Al Solomito said the plans started with a good idea, “built around how we want to worship. We have a blessing in the architects—they are good Catholic architects. We knew what we wanted and it’s been nice to talk to someone with a similar vision who can put it on paper. As Mother Angelica likes to say, ‘If we have faith, the finances will come. If we are good stewards of our finances, and if it’s God’s will, it will come.’ ”

His wife, Michelle Solomito, saw the plans for the first time and thought they were amazing.

“I met Father about 10 years ago, and when he was moved to the new parish it was a natural progression for us to join—it was perfect,” she said. “With the friendship we had before with him before we had him as a pastor, we have been blessed to follow him. We are blessed, too, that Bishop [William G.] Higi had the foresight to acquire this land before the parish was established. The diocese has been very helpful.”

“I knew about Father [Brian Dudzinski] from following stories about him in The Catholic Moment,” said parishioner Mary Beth Atherton. “I was excited when he came [as associate pastor at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Carmel]. He seemed very holy and spiritual. We followed him when the new parish started, and had Sunday Masses in our home. The most we had was about 55 people. I still remember where the altar was.”

Felix and Laurel Gorney became parishioners of St. John Vianney because they wanted to support Father Dudzinski at his new parish.

“Certainly, if we’re going to see the culmination of the plans, this will be one of the most beautiful churches built in 20 years,” Felix said. “The layout and design is phenomenal. You couldn’t ask for more in a church—I hope it gets built like this.” †


(Go to the website of The Catholic Moment)

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