After years of planning, Church of the Resurrection and Holy Family Catholic Schools officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Resurrection Elementary School building this morning in Dubuque.
"I'm thinking about Father (Joseph) Hauer today because Father Hauer was the catalyst of the whole project and such an advocate of Catholic schools," Resurrection Principal Denise Grant said. "So I'm thinking of him today and how much he is smiling down from heaven."
The Rev. Joseph Hauer, who died in August, served Resurrection parish for 16 years before his retirement three years ago.
"It's been a few years in coming, but this was something he always wanted," Grant said.
Now, school and church officials hope the project to construct a new three-story building will be completed over the next year.
"We've been talking it up for quite a while, so it's nice to have it start," said the Rev. Phil Gibbs, pastor of Church of the Resurrection.
Builders currently are cleaning out asbestos from the old building and then will demolish a wing of the current school to make way for a new building.
The new school is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2022.
"I'm excited about the opportunity that awaits our students," Holy Family Chief Administrator Phillip Bormann said.
Holy Family and Resurrection parish both are contributing to the $8.6 million project.
"We've been able to already raise the funds for our committed pledge to Resurrection," Bormann said.
An anonymous donor also has pledged $2.5 million.
"When people see the project underway, that gives them the confidence this is actually a real thing," Gibbs said.
Gibbs said the church still has $600,000 left to raise out of $3.05 million.
Grant said the school community is enthusiastic for the new space.
"I'm just so excited for all of our kids and our families and the parish and Holy Family," she said. "It's just really exciting for all of us."
Still, she acknowledged that students and staff will miss the old school, too.
"On the last day of school, the teachers were finally realizing that this is no longer going to be here," Grant said. "We've spent so many years here, and there are so many memories here."
When Mary Jo Dalsing thinks of Resurrection Elementary School, she remembers cornfields and a narrow old road leading to a school at the edge of town.
Dalsing attended Resurrection from first grade in 1966 until eighth grade in 1974. She stayed in Dubuque and is currently the secretary at Resurrection.
"It was kind of a rural parish then," Dalsing said. "For a long time, Resurrection was the end of the city limits."
For more recent students, the school has been surrounded by a more urban environment as Dubuque and Asbury have grown around it.
Future students can look forward to even more changes — though the school will still be located on the same plot.
"It has served the parish well," Dalsing said. "When it was built back in the 1960s, it was supposed to be a temporary structure and replaced later."
Incoming Resurrection kindergartener Jack Mueller attended the groundbreaking with his mother, Holy Family Director of Enrollment Rebecca Mueller.
Jack and his fellow Resurrection students will spend the next school year learning in the school buildings on the St. Anthony Catholic Church campus during construction.
Mueller said her son is excited for the new school. Jack nodded in agreement.
"I think it's going to be a really great environment for the kids," Mueller said.