Grant helps Poynette parish build disabled accessible restroom Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Mar. 15, 2018 -- 12:00 AM

poynette bathroom
Parochial Administrator Fr. Balaraju Eturi of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Poynette stands by as the new family restroom, accessible to people with disabilities, is opened. (Contributed photo)

POYNETTE — Parishioners off all physical abilities now have access to a restroom at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Poynette.

The recent opening of the family restroom provides access and space for everyone, especially those who have to use a wheelchair to get around.

Establishing the need

Nearly one year ago, the parish applied for a grant from the Diocese of Madison Apostolate for Persons with Disabilities to help cover part of the cost of the restroom.

The existing restrooms at the time could not accommodate parishioners with wheelchairs.

The application, submitted by St. Thomas Parochial Administrator Fr. Balaraju Eturi, said, “Several church members in wheelchairs are reluctant to come to church knowing they can’t use our restrooms.”

He added that the parish was showing an increase in the number of older people with mobility and stability problems.

He expressed the need for a single use restroom for privacy and safety for young families.

The proposed location for the new bathroom was an usher’s storage room.

It’s near the entrance of the church for added accessibility.

Helping out

The Apostolate was able to help St. Thomas with the project by giving them a $5,000 grant to help with costs.

St. Thomas parishioners also did their part to help.

Along with funding, parish members removed items and shelves from the usher’s storage room, coordinated and monitored construction work, painted and decorated the new restroom, and also helped build shelving for a new storage room next to the restroom.

Contractors were also hired for plumbing, carpentry, and electrical work.

In the application, Father Eturi said there would be increased Mass attendance upon completion of the restroom.

The new restroom also includes a baby changing station for use of families who attend Mass and events at the church.

“This project has made people very happy,” said Father Eturi.

Applying for a grant

Through the generosity of many people over the years, the Apostolate is able to offer grants to parishes and organizations of the Diocese of Madison to support the full inclusion of people with disabilities in the life of the Church.

These funds are focused and restricted to the creation of programs, projects, and initiatives that will assist people with disabilities.

The Apostolate wishes to support parishes who want to provide supportive services and/or create accessible facilities but are unable to cover all of the costs on their own.

These efforts speak to the Gospel spirit that all baptized persons are welcome and called to participate in the life of their Catholic parish, school, camp, or program.

The first step in applying for a grant from the Apostolate is to identify a need.

Often the need is recognized and communicated by parishioners or students that are challenged in overcoming a structural barrier in order to fully participate in church and/or school activities.

Such challenges include not being able to navigate steps or open doors.

School or parish officials usually spend some time discussing how to effectively remove or overcome the challenges related to these identified barriers.

Often the most effective solution is structural modification such as installing a ramp or power-assisted doors.

At that point, parish or school officials should get in touch with the Diocese of Madison Building Commission, through Grant Emmel, to help ensure that the modifications they are considering meet with all civil and diocesan policies.

Emmel can be contacted at 608-821-3010 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Through this process, after estimates from contractors are received, if the projected cost is more than available resources, the parish or school may wish to consider applying for a grant from the Apostolate.

Parishes and schools in need of additional financial support to help with expenses related to an identified need should contact the Apostolate staff.

They can help ensure that all of the appropriate initial steps have been taken and can provide some guidance in how to develop a grant request.

Once a request is submitted, it is reviewed by a committee.

At this point, additional questions and the need for some clarification may arise. Apostolate staff will communicate with the grant requestor.

The grant review committee then makes a recommendation to deny, partially fund, or fully fund the request. That recommendation is then forwarded to Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison.

Once Bishop Morlino approves any recommendation to provide funding, a check is processed and delivered to the requestor.

For more information on applying for a grant, go to

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