Parish’s plan for spiritual center south of Port blessed by town

St. John XXIII plans to hold classes, retreats at house beginning in July
Ozaukee Press staff

Town of Port Washington officials gave their blessing last week to a plan to use a house on the south side of the township as a spiritual center.

The center at 2561 Highway 32 would be operated by St. John XXIII Catholic Parish as a place where people could come and explore their spirituality, pastoral assistant Kelly Lemens told the Plan Commission May 9.

It’s a way to stay connected to people who have drifted away from the church but who are spiritual and want to find ways to express that, Lemens said.

The center, which is expected to open in July, could also be a place for those seeking spiritual renewal, personal growth, healing and deeper self-awareness.

The parish plans to hold classes at the center as well as retreats on various topics, she said.

“It would be a place for people to just come and spend a day and unplug,” she said. “It would be a place for contemplation and prayer.”

The center called A Place to Be, could also be used for grief and divorce support groups, Bible studies and days of reflection, Lemens said.

While the center would primarily be used during the daytime, some evening classes would be offered, she added. 

The center would be located in a house owned by Bob Goebel adjacent to Goebel Woodworking. The house has been vacant for almost a year, Goebel said.

Lemens said the center would have a chapel for prayer and meditation, library with spiritual reading resources, an art room and spaces for individual or group retreats.

Lemens said the atmosphere in the house would be less intimidating to people than hosting these services in a church building.

“The church is a barrier,” she said. “We want to create a space that eliminates as many barriers as possible. Our role is to create a welcoming, warm environment for people to engage in that kind of seeking.”

Parking was a primary concern for commission members.

The center would hold a maximum 25 people at a time, and any overflow parking could be accommodated at the adjoining Goebel Woodworking site.

The parish does not intend to make any changes to the site, except to add a sign, Lemens said.

The building is in the B1 business zoning district, so the center would be a permitted use, Town Planner Christy DeMaster said.

Because of that, the town does not need to approve the plan for the center, officials said.


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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