Seminary community impressed with tour of renovation

LISA JOHNSTON | lisajohnston@archstl.org

As a Kenrick-Glennon seminarian who will spend one semester in the renovated building once it is complete, Deacon John Nickolai is impressed.

On a tour of the building May 17 for seminarians, faculty and staff, Nickolai enjoyed checking out the progress of the construction and is looking forward to seeing it completed. "It will be different but the same in a lot of ways. I'm glad about that," said Nickolai, a transitional deacon who will begin serving at St. Patrick Parish in Wentzville in June.

"It will still be like coming home for my class for one semester," he said.

Msgr. Gregory Mikesch, vice rector of Kenrick-Glennon, is a graduate of the seminary's college and school of theology programs. He served as the chair of the Pastors' Advisory Committee for the successful campaign to raise funds for the renovation of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.

Seeing the work showed the renovation was "a wonderful plan manifesting good stewardship with the gifts entrusted to us," Msgr. Mikesch said. "I'm very grateful for the support and generosity of the people of the Archdiocese of St. Louis."

The campaign has supported updates and repairs to the building and directed funds to an endowment. The project includes remodeled student rooms and common areas, extensive library renovations and additional faculty offices and classrooms. Work is expected to be completed late this year. Great care was taken to maintain the historic architecture of the building.

Father Paul Rothschild, another alum who now is dean of students and director of pastoral formation at the seminary, said: "I believe the men will be well served by it in their preparation for the priesthood. It is a tremendous expression of faith on the part of the people of the archdiocese."

Lawrence Feingold, adjunct professor of philosophy at the seminary, said he was impressed with the effort to keep the historic nature and details of the building intact while replacing what had been worn out. The new addition with faculty offices and roof terrace also is impressive, he added.

Mary Beth Wittry, director of music, noted that the renovation made good use of the space. "I'm amazed at the differences. I can't wait to see it finished."

Mary Ann Aubin, library director, said the use of light and compact shelving in the library are highlights.

BSI Constructors began working on the abatement of hazardous materials and demolition a year ago. Interior partitions and old radiators were removed, work on the foundations for an eastward expansion began, work on the new tunnel connecting the library and auditorium was set in place and modifications to accommodate the new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems were started.

The seminary community has moved temporarily to the former St. Mary's Convent in Richmond Heights, shortening the duration of the project and saving costs. Washington University has provided classroom space at the former CBC High School, and Concordia Seminary has permitted students to park on and use their campus.

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