September 19, 2023 // FEATURE

Our Lady School Breaks Ground on New Gym, Activities Center

Our Lady of Good Hope Church in Fort Wayne marked a key milestone in a planned renovation as the parish celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony for its new gymnasium/activities center on Sunday, September 10. Leaders at the church and school hope the project will be completed before the beginning of the 2024-25 school year.

“It will serve as a general activities center for the parish as well as a gymnasium for the parish grade school … during the day and outside the school day for extracurricular activities,” said Father Mark Gurtner, Pastor of Our Lady of Good Hope and Vicar General of the diocese.

Community members of Our Lady of Good Hope Church in Fort Wayne look on during the groundbreaking ceremony of the parish and school’s new gymnasium.

The school’s current gym does not have a regulation-sized basketball court, but the new one will. The new facility will also have the space for two volleyball courts, giving the school the ability to host tournaments.

“As a student, there is a real sense of pride playing on your home court in front of your family, friends, and fellow students,” Adam Schillinger, Our Lady’s Athletic Director, told Today’s Catholic.

“As a parent, I know we are all excited to have more home games and … [fewer] away games that we have to travel to,” Schillinger said. “I can’t wait for that first home game where we will all stand for the Our Lady School song and National Anthem.”

“This parish and community are a huge part of our life,” Schillinger continued. “The school is already such a blessing, and this new gym is really taking us to another level.”

Schillinger is not the only parent to see benefits. Kari and Jeremy Cattaneo have two children who are current students and have had a total of eight go through the school at Our Lady. “I’m excited to have a real gym,” Kari Cattaneo said. Jeremy Cattaneo said he is looking forward to the home-court pride and space for larger crowds. “The gym we have now,” he said, “is not really adequate for the size of the church and parish.”

Photos by Bethany Beebe
Individuals connected to Our Lady of Good Hope School in Fort Wayne shovel dirt during the groundbreaking ceremony for the school’s new gymnasium and activities center, held on Sunday, September 10. Pictured from left are: Ken Tippmann of Shawnee Construction; Father Ryan Timossi, Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Good Hope; Adam Schillinger, Athletic Director; Bea Royal, Principal of Our Lady School; Steve Kohrman, Property Manager; Father Mark Gurtner, Vicar General and Pastor of Our Lady of Good Hope; and John Schenkel of Shawnee Construction.

The students are not the only ones who will benefit, Father Gurtner said.

“It is our hope that the whole parish will also benefit from the gym for various activities which arise in parish life.”

Schillinger said annual activities such as a father-daughter dance, mother-son night, and trivia nights are examples of activities that might occupy the new space.

Our Lady Principal Bea Royal is also looking forward to the space for indoor recess options, as currently the classes take turns skipping recess when the weather is bad because enough space for all does not exist.

Students will also see benefits in the new space since they eat lunch there, as well. “Splitting lunch/recess between the two places will be beneficial to the daily activities of the students,” Royal said. Funeral lunches for the parish will also likely be held in the new gymnasium. Construction on the building was scheduled to begin on Tuesday, September 12, and Shawnee Construction is the designer and builder for the approximately $2.7 million project.

In the works for about three years, financial support came from a number of avenues. A May 2022 gala raised $500,000, which received a matching grant of $500,000 from the Mary Cross Tippmann Foundation, which also gave a $200,000 grant and has put on the table another $200,000 if the parish matches those funds. The remaining funds will come from parishioner donations and parish savings.

Schillinger said the benefit of the new gymnasium and activities center to the Our Lady community goes beyond the dollars and cents.

“Our Catholic identity will be physically on display from the crucifix inside and on the outside of the building,” Royal said. “We hope that this helps to keep our student athletes focused toward doing all things in Christ.”

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