News: Hamburg parish hoping third time's the charm

April 13, 2021

Architectural rendering of proposed new building at Sai

Parishioners of St. Mary Parish in Hamburg were about to launch a capital campaign to take down an old building and replace it with a new multifunctional one in 2019.

But a devastating flood swept through the town. The building effort took a backseat to the immediate work of restoring the church’s flooded basement, businesses, homes and farm fields that were awash with Missouri River water.

The next spring, parishioners felt the time was right to try again and were prepared for a commitment Sunday in March to launch the capital campaign.

Then the pandemic hit. Masses were suspended, businesses closed and folks focused on staying healthy.

This spring, St. Mary parishioners are hoping the third try is a charm and they’ll be able to get their project off the ground.

“Hamburg is a small community and has been through so much. The people are on the road to recover. We fall into that. Our church is a pillar,” said Teresa Jamison. “I think it’s an important sign to show we are here and still alive to the rest of the community.”

A white two-story building that has served the parish for more than 125 years no longer meets the needs of the parish. If parishioners wanted to fix it up, it would cost half as much or more as a new building, said parishioner Cheryl Phillips.

The building sits next to the church on land that is several feet below the floodplain. The new building will have a lobby that’s at ground level, and then have a lift that will take people up to the main part of the building, said architect Rick Emswiler.

A concrete base around the building will protect it from floodwater, he added.

The new building will have five classrooms for the parish’s 42 religious education youth. Two of the classrooms can be made into larger areas, an office, a small kitchenette and restrooms. The building can be added onto if needed in the future, said parishioner Rick Jamison.

“We want it to look like the church, not a Morton building,” said parishioner Carolyn Maher. “We’re a small parish but we have a lot of kiddos and we want to make sure we have the best facility to serve them.”

The pastor, Father Raphael Assamah, has been supportive of the parish’s determination to replace its classroom space.

“He’s a real supporter of our parish,” said Phillips.

Parishioner Carolyn Maher said: “We certainly have had challenges. But we work together to get things done.”

Jamison added that the parish slogan is “a small parish with a big heart. I think that has definitely been demonstrated in this parish.”