St. Andrew's Catholic Church hosted its groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 30 for planned updates to its facility.

Father Daniel Weiske started the groundbreaking ceremony with prayer and the choir sang a rendition of "Come to the Living Stone."

The facilities plan for the church will cost an estimated $2.08 million and has financial commitments of $1,782,000. Project highlights include a boiler replacement and a handicapped-accessible entrance added to the nave of the church. The church will be able to accommodate about 100 more people in pews and will feature new flooring and a granite altar recovered from another church.

The new social hall will be about one-third larger than the current hall. Its separation from the church nave will allow both spaces to be used at the same time by different groups. The new entryway will make the building more accessible from the main parking lot, will reduce common confusion with newcomers and visitors about where to enter the building, and will alert passersby it is a church.

When St. Francis of Assisi parish in Brainerd grew to 900 families by 1960, Bishop Schenk started a new parish to be built south of the town, St. Andrew's website states. In 1963, it was founded and named St. Andrew's with its first pastor, Father Frank Melovasich. St. Francis Parish gave a monetary donation to help get the new parish started.

From May 26, 1963, to the spring of 1965, Sunday Mass was celebrated in the Washington High School Auditorium. In the meantime a campaign for funds was started and plans drawn up for the new complex on Willow Street. Groundbreaking took place June 7, 1964, and the first liturgy was in the new church on Easter Sunday, April 18, 1965. Schenk dedicated the church and school on Aug. 29 of the same year.

On the completion of the structure in 1965, the school was opened under the direction of the Franciscan Sisters from Newton, Mass. But in 1969, the school closed because the financial burden of the school and paying off the parish debt was too heavy a burden for the parishioners. It wasn't until the pastorate of Father Michael Skumavc that the debt was retired in 1985. St. Andrew's has continued to grow since then.

In August 2001, Bishop Schnurr clustered the parishes of St. Andrew's, St. Francis and St. Mathias under the pastorate of one priest, and he appointed Father Seamus Walsh, the pastor of St. Francis, as the first pastor of the cluster of three parishes. In 2010, Bishop Sirba clustered St. Andrew's, St. Francis, St. Mathias, All Saints and St. Thomas of the Pines and appointed Father Tony Wroblewski as the pastor of this new cluster.

Finally, in June of 2014, it was announced there would be two clusters in the Brainerd area. St. Andrew's and St. Mathias would be clustered together and St. Francis, All Saints and St. Thomas of the Pines in the other.

For more information on the facilities plan, contact Weiske at fr.daniel.weiske@lakescatholic.org or call the office at 218-829-1340.