Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 4, 2006
JPII Bible School wants to expand
After 20 years, the popular school needs renovations
- WCR photo by Bill Glen
Julien Bilodeau in the soon to be renovated kitchen while Angela Krol and Rose Ann Mack prepare a meal.
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
John Paul II Bible School in Radway is built on 2,000 years of Catholic tradition. But now it requires a few renovations.
Since opening more than 20 years ago in an empty red brick hospital 80 km northeast of Edmonton, the school has attracted hundreds of laity from across Western Canada and around the world because of its bucolic life, intimate class sizes and devotion to the teachings of the Bible.
School of faith
"Ultimately, what the school is all about is giving the students as much personal attention as possible, helping them meet Jesus as a person and that he becomes central to their lives," said Kilian O'Donovan, director of JPII.
JPII is looking to raise about $1.5 million over the next five years to initially provide staff and students with an upgraded kitchen. The plans also include building an additional wing for the male dorm and chapel. The school also wants to buy newer vehicles as its outreach program expands.
O'Donovan was the school's director when it opened in 1984. He returned last year replacing school co-founder and then director Ernie Chauvet.
In the beginning . . .
"When we started, we had a priest who came on staff five days before the school opened and our house mother joined only two days before. Altogether, we had three staff members, including myself, the first four years," O'Donovan said. "Now there are 15 on staff."
In 2001, an old classroom and former garage was turned into a warm and bright dining area complete with refinished tables. Some preliminary plans for the kitchen include a new convection oven, a walk-in cooler and walk-in freezer. There will be new cupboards, counters and islands for baking and cooking.
Julien Bilodeau was a student last year. He is now the school's director of development to oversee the upgrades.
"We want to put in something that will serve the school for many, many years. We have rough plans on paper, but we have to make sure that what we are proposing is functional."
The school is home to 22 students at the moment.
O'Donovan says only the buildings have changed.
"The fundamental pillars of the school are exactly the same: Prayer, study, community life and evangelization and outreach," he said.
Asking for help
Because of its popularity in Western Canada, the Bible school asked for permission from each bishop to approach the priests in every diocese advising them of its development plan. Letters were sent to the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Women's League hoping that awareness and support will fan out from there.
"If every registered parishioner in Western Canada gave us $1 we would have some $300,000 more than what we budgeted for. It wouldn't take very much," Bilodeau said.
Once the bishops have all responded, with permission the school will go into a diocese and approach the parishes, institutions, groups and individuals.
"With prayer it will happen, if it's the Good Lord's plan," Bilodeau said.