COLUMBIA — The Diocese of Jefferson City will hold meetings this week for the parishioners of three Catholic churches to discuss the possibility of adding a parish and building a related school in Columbia.
The diocese is looking for feedback from those who attend about whether the parishioners will support a new parish with a school for kindergarten through eighth grade.
The following meetings will be held for parishioners of the Catholic churches in Columbia:
Tuesday: 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the St. Thomas More Newman Center
Wednesday: 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in Flanagan Hall at Our Lady of Lourdes
Friday: 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the Sacred Heart Activity Building (meeting will be held in Spanish)
Sunday: 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Sacred Heart Activity Building
"We are looking to help alleviate or take care of the additional growth to the Columbia Catholic population," said Deacon Dan Joyce, director of communications for the diocese.
The diocese and members of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, Sacred Heart Catholic Church and St. Thomas More Newman Center are discussing the possibility of opening the parish and school because of growth in the Catholic community and overcrowding at Our Lady of Lourdes Interparish School, formerly known as Columbia Catholic School.
Our Lady of Lourdes is the only Catholic school for kindergarten through eighth grade in Columbia.
Our Lady of Lourdes has more than 600 students, Principal Elaine Hassemer said. About 50 students are on a waiting list to attend the school, not including students who are are on a waiting list to get into kindergarten. The school already has begun putting names on the waiting list for kindergarten for the 2016-17 school year.
For students on the Our Lady of Lourdes waiting list, precedence is given to Catholic students who have a sibling at the school, then to Catholic students, then to non-Catholic students.
The school at 817 Bernadette Drive has outgrown its facility and has classes in mobile classrooms, Hassemer said. She said the addition of a new school in the area could "potentially reduce numbers."
There are about 4,100 Catholic households in Columbia, Joyce said.
Sr. Kathleen Wegman, chancellor of the diocese, is one the diocese members leading the meetings. Wegman will present information about the growth of the Catholic community in Columbia; then, an outside facilitator will provide a process through which people can respond to the diocese's questions.
One meeting was held Sunday. Four more are scheduled.
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