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Archbishop George J. Lucas prepares to break ground May 5 on a six-room addition to St. Wenceslaus School in Omaha. With him are James Dennell, president of BCDM Architects of Omaha, Father Thomas Bauwens, pastor of St. Wenceslaus Parish, Rita Bartlett, parish pastoral council chairman, Patrick Slattery, superintendent of archdiocesan schools, and Ed Thiele, chairman of the building committee.

Omaha school adding six classrooms; parish preparing for other projects

A May 5 groundbreaking for a six-classroom addition is just the beginning of a multi-year plan for expansion at St. Wenceslaus Parish and School in Omaha that includes building a new church.

Archbishop George J. Lucas assisted with the groundbreaking after presiding at an all-school Mass celebrating the Lord’s Ascension. He was joined by students, parishioners, Father Thomas Bauwens, pastor; Fathers Francis Nigli and Andrew Syring, associate pastors; William Huben, principal; Patrick Slattery, superintendent of archdiocesan schools and other officials.

The addition for the school of more than 800 students will open for classes in fall 2017, eliminating the need for temporary and sometimes noisy classrooms near the cafeteria and gymnasium, said Tony LaMar, the parish’s director of development.

The $2 million school addition is part of a $7.9 million fundraising effort the parish began in 2015 in conjunction with the archdiocese’s Ignite the Faith capital campaign. The effort also includes $2.4 million for the archdiocese’s initiatives, $500,000 to repave and resurface the parish parking lot and $3 million to build parish offices and meeting space with a new church. Ten percent of whatever is raised will go toward an endowment fund for building maintenance, LaMar said.

The church, which will seat about 1,400 people compared with the current 850, is being built with a $10 million gift from Wayne and the late Eileen Ryan, members of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Omaha who have supported other Catholic institutions, such as Mercy High School and Creighton University, both in Omaha, LaMar said.

Pending the necessary land acquisition, groundbreaking on a church could be held in summer 2017, LaMar said. Future school additions could be six to seven years away, he said.

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