March 4, 2021
By David Nordby
The Brillion News
BRILLION - Twenty years ago when the new Holy Family Catholic Church was built on Highway 10, the church had a plan to one day move its school to the facility.
That plan is finally coming to fruition. Holy Family is in the midst of a massive fundraising effort to move to house its church and school together, along with other new sparkling parts of a new facility.
“All of our buildings will be on one site,” Father Tom Pomeroy said. “Up until COVID came …we had to set up three separate buildings every Wednesday night when we had our religious [education].”
The church would set up religious education classes in its classrooms in downtown Brillion and Reedsville.
“Some of the students would come for first communion at the church and say, ‘I’ve never been in this building.’ Having everything there, access to our church for all the students is first and foremost the most exciting thing,” Pomeroy said.
In the near future, everything will be at one location.
Holy Family is about $200,000 away from its first goal of $3 million. Once it hits that goal, Bob and Pat Endries, with their son Tom, will donate a whopping $1.5 million.
Bob and Pat Endries both went to St. Mary’s School in Brillion before it was known as Holy Family, and then their children did, too.
“They have this long, long connection to both the Catholic school and to Brillion,” Pomeroy said.
The Endries have donated to other churches in Brillion, including through an endowment fund that helps each church in Brillion give to those who need it each year. After the Endries’ donation, the school would need about $1 million more for the entire project.
If everything goes according to plan, the construction will start this summer. The first year in the school year would be 2022-23.
When that time comes, it will be the end of a century-long stay for Holy Family school in downtown Brillion.
Pomeroy says if they wanted to stay in that facility, about $1.5 million would need to be spent for upgrades. Then they would no longer be grandfathered in for certain legal standards of building codes.
“It would cost a lot to bring [that building] up to code,” Pomeroy said. “I’m sure there will be a certain sadness. There were so many people who went through that school.”
But it is also what has been planned for decades.
“When they built the church [on Highway 10] 20 years ago, this was the plan,” Pomeroy said.
The school leaving the downtown area will give the City of Brillion more space for revitalization, with potentially another new apartment complex across from the one opening this spring.
For the school, Pomeroy says it is a necessity.
“It’s not unexpected, and I do think people will see there is a need,” Pomeroy said.
Pomeroy says that other churches he has been a part of have used gym facilities constantly for youth and adult sports teams.
“I’m real excited about having a gym,” Pomeroy said. “There’s lots of different options that come with a gymnasium, and plus, any community can use another gymnasium.”
The new school facility could help bring in new students, Pomeroy said.
“I’ve always worked on getting a stronger school,” Pomeroy said. “It’s an exciting process to give a better product in our education field.”
The new facility is being called the Holy Family Learning Center. More than 250 students who go to public school will have religious education in the evenings. It will also be used for adult education and youth ministry. The facility will have a new playground, classrooms, a daycare open to anyone in the community, expanded kitchen and a lobby/entrance area.
“When you walk in there, the whole thing is in the shape of a cross. The architect actually did that to give it a Christian feel … and that’s a really neat thing,” Pomeroy said. “When you walk in, you will see that in the flooring, in the tile, in the ceiling.”
There will be some space in between each classroom for students to work with each other on separate projects or have students work with helpers like reading specialists.
The daycare will be Christian-focused but will be available to anyone in the community. Years ago, a group of 150 parishioners agreed at a meeting that a new facility like the learning center would be necessary for the future of the church and private school in the community. Keller construction donated their time with the initial plans.
“When I got here [two years ago], my first meeting that I had was the meetings that were planning,” Pomeroy said.
Fundraising for the learning center has been unique during COVID-19. Pomeroy says they have not been able to have public gatherings and social events that would help build excitement.
“A lot of that has been personal phone calls, personal visits and one-on-one, so our capital campaign committee is doing a lion’s share with the work,” Pomeroy said. “This whole COVID-19 thing is making it really difficult.”
Those who have donated, have been huge, and Pomeroy says he has a thankfulness to the community.
“So many people are stepping up and donating … I’m always just shocked at the generosity that I see as a pastor with the people that I work with,” Pomeroy said.
Additional information is available online at holyfamilybrillion.org/ learning-center.
This story was first featured in the Feb. 18, 2021 print edition of The Brillion News.