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'Come and See': Rev. Wakulich discusses plans for new building, hopes to attract students

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St. John Catholic Student Center was open to students all day for prayer and meditation.

Rev. Wakulich, Priest of the St. John’s Student Parish Center, expressed his distaste for the current state of the structure to students in an open house last Wednesday.

“Get a look at this building,” Wakulich said. “It’s kinda ugly… This building was also made to be a fallout shelter.” A common word used for the building by most who have seen it is “modest.”

Regardless of people’s opinions, the building is scheduled to be demolished and rebuilt with an entirely new design in May of this year, with plans to be finished in July of 2022. 

In his tour, Wakulich uses nearby campus landmarks to describe the stature of the new church. 

“See that glass structure there, on the front of the business college,” Wakulich said. “Our new bell tower is twice as tall as that.” The bell tower, the tallest part of the future project, will be 150 feet tall and 25 feet wide.

Not only is the size of the building project astonishing, the design choices, some unique and some copied, are ambitious as well. 

“This church is, was, and still is one of the basilicas in Milan,” Wakulich said. “We’re going to take the beauty of the early Church and rebuild it here on the corner of Miller and Knoblock.” The basilica he refers to is the “Basilica di Sant’ Ambrogio,” which was constructed in the year 387. 

Aside from appearance, the current church’s functionality is also a reason for it to be rebuilt larger and grander. During his visual presentation inside the center, Wakulich explained just how crowded the schedule and small space had become.  

“We have exceeded its capacity.” Wakulich said. “We were having funerals in the church, and Thursday student lunch in here.” 

The 15 foot tall “Vine and Branches” Mosaic and other art prepared for the new place is much more intricate and special than what currently exists in the church. Wakulich explains the purpose of including this incredible art in the new church plan.

“To help people's minds be lifted to heaven,” said Wakulich. “We can evangelize people with beauty.”  

This welcoming environment to students of the Oklahoma State Stillwater campus is done in other ways besides art. The archway leading to the parish hall will have etched in stone the beatitude “when I was a stranger, you welcomed me.”

“It’s for the students” Wakulich said. “It’s going to mix with the style of brick around campus as well.” All of these concepts were created and developed while keeping the student body involved and in mind.

The one hour open house extensively presented what is to be expected in the building, while also leaving out details for time’s sake. 

“We’ve been working on this for a very long time.” Wakulich said. “If I brought you all of our drawings, it’s currently about 150 pages” 

The community of St. John’s hopes that the project stays on schedule for its 14-month construction, so soon students can invite their friends using the biblical phrase “come and see.”