St. Vincent de Paul Church
6001 N University
Peoria, IL  61614

Press Release
March 12, 2008

St. Vincent de Paul breaks ground for a $6 million dollar building project.

Groundbreaking will take place at 1:00 pm on Palm Sunday, March 16th at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church.  Groundbreaking will follow the noon Mass.  The location for the groundbreaking will be the field area south of the parish grade school.

Palm Sunday begins Holy Week and anticipates Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday.  Parishioners gather outside the parish hall to hear the Gospel account of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem.  Parishioners then carry blessed palm branches in procession into the church for the Mass.  The Mass will conclude with a procession to the field for the groundbreaking.  A reception will follow in the parish hall after the groundbreaking.

The campaign to raise funds for this project was titled “Renewing All Things in Christ.”  The goal of the Renewing All Things in Christ project is to improve the education offered at the school and the pastoral services offered at the parish.

The renovation and expansion of the school building will improve the quality and technology in our classrooms to promote student learning.  It will also improve other facilities to promote our athletic and extra-curricular programs.

The construction of parish offices connected to the church will provide more accessible pastoral service to every parishioner.

A little less than half of the funds of this project will go toward the renovation of the existing school building which was built in 1962.  Renovation work will improve school safety, add air conditioning, and improve energy efficiency.  Classrooms will receive electrical and technological upgrades.  A little more than half of the project funds will be directed toward additions to the church and school.  The school will add on space for a new gymnasium, stage, and music room.  The church will add on office space for the clergy and parish staff.  The new office space will provide more room for parish staff than is currently available in the small office in the rectory.  A new sound system for the church has already been installed as part of this project.

The campaign began in late 2007 and concluded in late February.  The parish has received pledges totaling approximately 96% of its fundraising goal of $4 million.  Some pledges are still coming in and the parish anticipates reaching its fundraising goal.  The remaining costs for the $6 million building project will be paid out of the existing parish building fund.  Pledges will be paid over the next five years.

St. Vincent de Paul School has approximately 600 enrolled students from pre-K through 8th grade.

The physical improvements to the school building will compliment other educational improvements in the 2008-2009 school year.  St. Vincent de Paul School will take advantage of its renovated facility to organize a more effective middle school program with additional opportunities for foreign language and fine arts.  St. Vincent de Paul School is one of the first group of Catholic schools in our region to be accredited through North Central Association’s Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (see

While there will be some activity over the next three months, the bulk of the construction work will take place over the summer months while the children are not in school.  The entire project should be completed by December of this year.

The planning for this project began in 2004 under Msgr. Steven Rohlfs who is currently the rector of Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.  Planning continued under 2005 under Msgr. Paul Showalter who now serves as vicar general and pastor of St. Bernard Parish, Peoria.  Father Jason Gray arrived at St. Vincent de Paul in 2006 as parochial administrator and has been ultimately responsible for bringing the planning and fundraising efforts to this successful conclusion.  Father Gray holds a license in Scripture and Canon Law.  He works part time in the Diocesan Tribunal and serves on the Board of Trustees of Peoria Notre Dame High School.

The planning and fundraising efforts have called on the help of over 200 parishioners.  More than half of these volunteers helped with the fundraising efforts.  About a dozen parishioners served on a construction committee to review architectural plans.  The project was also guided by input from the parish finance council, the school education commission, and the teachers who provided very valuable advice about the school’s needs.  The construction plans were greatly enhanced through consultation with the teaching staff since they have first-hand knowledge of the building and the school’s educational needs.

Mr. Michael Birdoes, school principal, has played a central role in this project not only by reviewing construction plans, but also by identifying ways in which this project can improve the quality of our educational program.  The fundraising work has been successful because of the hard work and dedication of the campaign co-chairs:  Dr. & Mrs. Michael & Dianne Gootee, Mr. & Mrs. Tim & Michelle Krueger, Mr. & Mrs. Joseph & Janet O’Neill, and Mr. & Mrs. Don & Barbara Western.

St. Vincent de Paul Parish was founded by the late Msgr. Robert Livingston who was pastor from 1962 until his retirement in 1994.  Msgr. Livingston built the original part of the parish school in 1962 as well as an addition in 1963 that nearly doubled its size.  Msgr. Livingston built the parish church in 1977 which is noteworthy for its large open spaces and its use of wood.  The “Renewing All Things in Christ” campaign logo features a depiction of a wooden statute of Christ designed by Msgr. Livingston and featured in the parish church.  This construction project is dedicated in loving memory to the parish’s founding pastor.