New Pastoral Center rising on Poplar Level

Equipment, building debris and support for part of the new Archdiocese of Louisville Pastoral Center are seen from Poplar Level Road March 30. The tower of Holy Family Church rises above the building site, which occupies the former school and preschool of Holy Family and adjacent land on the church property. (Record Photo by Marnie McAllister)
Equipment, building debris and support for part of the new Archdiocese of Louisville Pastoral Center are seen from Poplar Level Road March 30. The tower of Holy Family Church rises above the building site, which occupies the former school and preschool of Holy Family and adjacent land on the church property. (Record Photo by Marnie McAllister)

By Marnie McAllister, Record Editor

The new Archdiocese of Louisville Pastoral Center is beginning to take shape on the site of the former Holy Family School, located on Poplar Level Road near the Watterson Expressway.

The school, which closed in 2014, has been heavily remodeled and redesigned inside. And a new structure is rising steel beam, by steel beam by its side on the site of the school’s former convent.

The new center will include a solar array on the building’s roof, triple-pane windows for
energy efficiency and about 40,000 square feet of office and meeting space.

By the time the approximately $6 million project is complete late this summer,
observers will find a fresh-looking exterior, but with some of the former school’s features woven into the new design, said Dr. Brian Reynolds, chancellor and chief administrative officer of the Archdiocese of Louisville.

“We preserved the general facade of Holy Family School as recognition of the historical contribution of the school to that area of the city,” Reynolds said during an interview April 4. “However, in order to be an energy-efficient building we needed to redo windows and other elements. It’s a combination of both preserving the history of the property and expanding the facility and updating for more contemporary use.”

Holy Family Church continues to be an active parish, which was important to Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz in selecting the location, Reynolds said.

“Archbishop Kurtz likes to say that healthy parishes make a healthy archdiocese. That’s a value we’re promoting by locating the pastoral center in a parish accessible to people around the archdiocese,” he said. “Being present in the context of a parish is both symbolic as well as practical. We’ll be able to share things like care of the property with the parish, which is of mutual support.”

He also noted the archbishop will celebrate a weekday morning Mass there.

“It’s a way to support a local faith community and a constant reminder of who we exist to serve,” Reynolds noted.

The location was also selected because of its proximity to Interstate 65 and the Watterson Expressway.

“Traveling and parking downtown is harder than it is at the intersection of Intersate 65 and the Watterson,” he said. “We always want to keep in mind we’re serving folks from 24 counties. People driving from out in the state will find this more accessible.”

What’s moving?

The Pastoral Center will provide about 40,000-square-feet for the ministries of the archdiocese. And it will enable the archdiocese to house all of its offices in two buildings, rather than three.

It will house the Chancery (which includes the offices of the archbishop, chancellor and vicar general); the Archdiocesan Communications Center, in part (The Record will remain at the Maloney Center); Finance Office; Catholic Schools Office; Office of Mission Advancement; Office of Personnel; Office of Priest Personnel; Parish Leadership Development Office; and the Metropolitan Tribunal.

Most of these offices currently reside in what’s known as “the Chancery.” It’s located at 212 East College Street near downtown Louisville and will eventually be sold.

The new building’s name — the Archdiocese of Louisville Pastoral Center — will better reflect “why we exist — to provide pastoral care,” said Reynolds.

The Catholic Schools Office will move to the Pastoral Center from the Flaget Center, which will no longer house archdiocesan offices and will instead operate full-time as a conference and retreat center, a function it already serves, in part.

The other offices most recently located at Flaget Center, 1935 Lewiston Drive, moved to the Maloney Center, 1200 S. Shelby St., last month. These include Youth and Young Adult Ministry and the Office of Faith Formation.

The new building

The Pastoral Center will have 52 offices and about 50 people are expected to work there. It also has nine meeting rooms of various sizes, including a large meeting room that can hold up to 100 people at tables. Several of these meeting rooms will be equipped with TVs, where slideshow presentations and other media can be viewed.

During an informal tour of the new building, a handful of employees saw where their new offices will be located. They pointed out that the new offices and meeting rooms have a lot of natural light filtering in through large windows.

Light will also stream into the Pastoral Center through the building’s two-story glass lobby. The lobby will also feature four panes of stained glass that have been preserved from the school. The glass depicts four symbols of education, a mission that will continue in the Pastoral Center through the Catholic Schools Office.

Care for Creation

That same sunlight expected to illuminate the building through its large triple-paned windows is also expected to provide about 39,000-kilowatt hours of energy each year through roof-top solar panels.

While this renewable energy source and energy-efficient windows will likely save the archdiocese money over time, that’s not the reason the archdiocese has decided to invest in them, Reynolds said.

“Our Holy Father has called on all of us to care for the earth,” he noted, referring to the pope’s encyclical “Laudato Si’.” “One particular way is to at least have some elements of renewable energy.

“While saving dollars is a value, that’s not the primary goal. The primary goal is the renewable energy. And that’s exciting.”

The Pastoral Center will be the first local diocesan facility to have a renewable energy source.

The archdiocese also plans to plant trees and other green spaces on the property.

The cost

The cost of the project, an estimated $6 million, will be covered in three ways, Reynolds said.

  • The sale of the current Chancery building.
  • Cost savings by reducing agency offices from three to two buildings.
  • A low-cost loan.

“There are obviously expenditures, but there are savings of expenditures and energy efficiencies,” Reynolds said. “There will certainly be reduced travel across the diocese, which will help everybody.”

“We were aware that if we didn’t do this, we would have to make big expenditures on this building,” he said, speaking on the phone in his Chancery office.

For instance, the Chancery lacks large meeting rooms and needs to become more handicap accessible.

To make this building fully accessible, “It would be nearly impossible and enormously expensive,” he said.

Reynolds added that there’s one other, trifling but real benefit to moving the archdiocese’s headquarters to Holy Family’s campus: The staff is excited about having a fish fry across the parking lot during Lent.

And they’ve heard Holy Family’s fish fry is offering something special this year. The parish, which is served by priests from India, is offering a baked fish marinated with Indian flavors at its fish fry during Lent.

Marnie McAllister
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Marnie McAllister
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