West: businessman makes stunning donation to small private school
A local businessman has donated a $3 million sports complex and prayer garden to St. Mary’s Catholic School in West.
Will Kapavik, the owner of Associated Concrete Contracts, initially set out to build a football field and track for the 119-year-old school, but as work on the yearlong project proceeded, the plans grew to include an outdoor pavilion, and a two-story end zone complex that houses a concession stand, locker rooms for boys and girls and weight rooms.
A special Mass and dedication ceremony were held Wednesday morning to celebrate the donation of the complex and an associated prayer garden on South Reagan Street, next to the West VFW, about five blocks from the school.
“The prayer garden is the Novena to Mary prayer with large stones of granite engraved in seven languages; English, Czech, Spanish, Hebrew, Polish, German and Portuguese,” Kapavik said Tuesday.
But there’s more work yet to be done.
“While we have spent well over $2.5 million, we have a ways to go and that doesn’t even lend value to all the volunteer labor done on the complex," said Kapavik, a West native who still calls the small town home although he works all over the country,
"We had so much help from the community, from the parishioners of the church. People have wanted to come out here and donate work, it's so much I can't even begin to name it."
The St. Mary’s Mustangs six-man football team will play its first game on the field in September, said West Mayor Pro-Tem Steve Vanek, who serves as director of the St. Mary's Mustang Sports Complex.
"I've seen it come from the ground up and I cannot believe it's come this far. It's just an honor and privilege to work here and take care of the place,” he said.
"He has really built one nice facility for our church and also for the city of West. This will be an attraction in the future that people will drive off the interstate to come see this,” he said.
Although the complex and prayer garden will belong to St. Mary’s, Kapavik says he thinks they will be open to the public.
"I think it will be open to the community because we're also going to have the Stations of the Cross that go around the track, we have the 14 stations of Jesus carrying the cross so we hope to draw the community to come out here and exercise and pray."
A statue of the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus with his foot on the Bible is perched in the center of the front of the end zone facility, and Kapavik smiled as he looked at it Tuesday.
"As it works out the Blessed Mother is right here, right in the center of the field and I think at Notre Dame they have touchdown Jesus and here we'll have touchdown Mary."
About 140 students from pre-K through eighth grade attend the school, which was founded in 1899.
The school’s original two-story frame building has been bricked and is now a licensed childcare center that serves children from 6 weeks through 3 years of age.