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HVAC Campaign




Years of waiting, months of studying and planning, and a different approach to a sixty year-old building is making our school and other buildings on campus ready for air-conditioning. Necessity is compelling us to replace and upgrade campus-wide heating. Comfort is not the only reason for this undertaking: new equipment and controls mean significantly improved efficiency and note-worthy operational savings. Improved environmental spaces will expand the use of our buildings throughout the year. Help us invest in the future of our parish and school mission, and community life.

September 2, 2015:  The old boilers are completely gone and new ones are in place. Everything is being connected, day by day, to be sure heating is in place for cool fall and cold winter temps. For the first time ever in the history of our school, A/C is installed and running in the grade school. This replacement of the old equipment, which is decades old, and installation of A/C in the grade school, will make our buildings on the Cathedral campus more useful throughout the year, will keep our operational costs down and will extend the life of our infrastructure for years into the future. This is a 2.5 million dollar project. It keeps the promise made by the Cathedral Builders over one-hundred years ago, that this is a Cathedral for the ages. We are doing our part to honor that promise. 

March 2016: Since July 2015 I have provided description of the campus wide replacement and installation of HVAC equipment and controls (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning). 

WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT? The promise at issue was the one I made to the Archbishop at the time ofthe Archdiocesan Ignite the Faith Campaign. This campaign gave response to months of extensive meetings, data collection, analysis of Catholic elementary and secondary schools. A plan was developed to better align parishes and schools and better apply resources for sustainable service and faith formation across the urban and rural areas of the Archdiocese of Omaha. An anonymous parishioner donated the assigned financial number which Saint Cecilia Cathedral was to collect in a three year period. That assigned financial amount was $880,000. This allowed our parish to direct its attention and energies to reclaiming an essential component of daily operation of the Cathedral campus – an aging, increasingly high maintenance and repairing of the heating system, the ventilation of five buildings and the upgrading or installation of air conditioning throughout the campus to meet the modern expectation of the activities at the Cathedral campus.

WHERE HAVE WE COME FROM? The promise I made, on behalf of the parish and the school, was to create a plan, and a reasonable budget and a construction time table. The original bid for the campus project was $4,500,000 (which would have required up to an additional $1,000,000 for related costs). It did not take long to realize that this amount of money was beyond the resources of the Cathedral parish and that the cost of operating the equipment and controls was not sustainable. Several months of considerable reexamination of the project resulted in a different concept which linked to the energy efficiency of the equipment and controls. The cost of this plan was $2,400,000. In March, 2014 the revised plan, and price tag, were presented to a small gathering of Cathedral parishioners and friends. Follow-up contacts resulted in the first contributions to the project. In July, 2014 THE CHIMES carried the first article about the project. It also invited financial “investment” for the future of the Cathedral and the school.

WHAT HAS HAPPENED SO FAR? At the end of February, 2016, we had received, in pledges and cash, $1,311,073. This is over half way to our goal. About one-tenth of this amount is pledged contributions still to be received. The rest has been paid to vendors and contractors. We are pay-as-you-go.We have not taken out a loan and do not plan to take out a loan. What do we have to show for this? The sixteen classrooms of the school, two floors with eight classrooms each, are now air conditioned. The four way directional ceiling mounted units were turned on August 1, 2015 and operated through the latter part of October. The difference in the building was amazing. It was quieter. It was cleaner air. It provided an environment in which students were more attentive to teachers and the work at hand. It eliminated “early out” days because of temperature control. Two six-ton boilers, each capable of heating 80 residential homes, were finally connected to the existing piping system across the campus and to the reconstructed smokestack at the back of the Msgr Ernest Graham Building. The first heat was delivered on October 26, 2015. We have re-lamped all four floors of the school building with LED lighting and we have re-lamped the cafeteria with LED lighting. This allowed us to reduce significantly our electrical use so that we could install air conditioning in the school. This lighting will continue to provide significantly reduced costs each month into the future. There are plans to continue to install LED lighting in the other buildings of the campus, including the Cathedral, as we complete the project. The new control system has proven to be an elusive achievement. A special analytic company has been hired to evaluate the system concept, the installation of the equipment and the performance of the entire system.

WHAT IS TO COME? Discussion has already taken place for replacement of air conditioning equipment in the cafeteria, in the Cultural Center and in the Cathedral as well as first time installation of air conditioning in the gymnasium. This part of the project is every bit as ambitious as the work we have already done. It is every bit as important too. We are looking at $1,200,000 or $1,300,000 for the cost to complete the entire campus.

WHAT DO WE NEED AT THIS POINT IN TIME? One big need is $200,000 to pay the final bills for the work already performed in the school and in the boiler room. No one person is expected to or will be asked to pay this sum of money. We are all benefiting from the newly operating equipment. This sounds like a lot of money. In relation to the overall project already up and running, and successfully so, it represents one sixth of the cost to date. It also represents a significant reinvestment in the school and in the Cathedral campus in Mid-Town Omaha. Have you put off a contribution to the HVAC project? Remember this is an investment which will serve the Cathedral and its campus for the coming decades. Have you already given a contribution? Can you do it again in 2016? Would you be willing to make an investment rather than a donation? Closing this gap between donations and bills yet to be paid will allow us to focus our efforts on the next phase of the HVAC project – A/C for the cafeteria, the gymnasium and the Cathedral. Many thanks to all who have made a contribution to the HVAC project, especially those who have made an “investment” in the Cathedral continuing presence and service to our families, to the Archdiocese, to the MidTown neighborhood and to the many guests and visitors who are always dropping by. The critique I received when I took the HVAC project to the Archbishop’s Office for approval was: “Father, people will not give to something they do not or cannot see.” My reply was: “What if they can feel it?” Help me to make the Cathedral “feel just right” for everyone who comes to us.


The Promise was made two years ago:

- Replace the 69 year-old boiler that serves the entire campus

- Replace the 25 year-old air conditioning system in the Cathedral

- Install an air conditioning system in the grade school, gymnasium, and cafeteria

- Assure the HVAC control system for the next generation at Saint Cecilia Cathedral

- Enhance every visit to the Cathedral campus


Our Plan is:

- To install air conditioning in the entire grade school and child care building, and upgrade the controls for building-wide HVAC operation.

- To provide new opportunities for additional and year-round activities because of quality HVAC operations.

- To connect new equipment and controls that will result in a 30% reduced operating expense across the campus.

- To install new LED lighting in the school and cafeteria that will reduce operational costs by 75%. Reduced maintenance costs will yield additional savings annually.



- Boiler campus wide service $ 558,370.00

- A/C & controls for school $ 427,120.00

- A/C & controls for cafeteria $ 262,947.00

- A/C in original school $ 277,900.00

- Gymnasium $ 151,876.00

- Cathedral $ 334,025.00

- Rectory boiler & pumps $ 91,174.00

- Engineering studies $ 226,300.00

Total $ 2,329,712.00


 Read the case statement in the Chimes

 See the progress in photos


Please join in the campaign and make a pledge and donation.

One-hundred percent of your donation stays at Saint Cecilia Cathedral Parish.

 Pledge/donation form


QUESTIONS? Call Beth Klug, Director, Development and Alumni Relations Office at 402-551-2313 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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