Diocesan News

Utica Parish Celebrates Groundbreaking Long-Awaited Hall to Include Classrooms, Kitchen, Office/Library and General Meeting Room

GROUNDBREAKING - Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz blessed the land at the site of the new parish hall for St. Patrick Parish in Utica June 30. Then he, pastor Father Maurice Current, building committee chairman Bill Tomes; oldest parishioner Paul Geiger, 93; and two trustees each turned a spadeful of earth to officially begin the building project. (SNR photo)

UTICA (SNR) - On the last day of June – a beautiful summer evening – members of Saint Patrick Parish in Utica gathered on the southeast corner of the parish property for the official ground breaking of the new parish hall.

After blessing the land, Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz took a gold-painted shovel, as did pastor Father Maurice Current; building committee chairman Bill Tomes; oldest parishioner Paul Geiger, 93; and two trustees. Each dug a spadeful of earth, and the building project was officially begun.

“It’s been a lot of work to get to this point,” Father Current said. “We are grateful it’s coming together.”

Since the 1970s, Saint Patrick Parish has made do with a sturdy steel structure, basically one large room, situated to the east of the church. It was big enough for some, but not all events.

Six years ago or so, the idea of building a new hall was brought up. One parishioner even went so far as to have her father’s class at Southeast Community College draw up preliminary plans, but the project was deemed too expensive.

In the past few years, however, the need for a new hall became more and more apparent. A few funeral receptions have been so large, some people gathered around picnic tables outdoors – an acceptable option in good weather, but not a permanent solution.

Partitions that cleverly roll out from the interior walls established
spaces for individual CCD classes, but the steel structure made it so noisy, the parish resorted to placing some classes in individual homes and one in a space rented from the local public school.

“About a year ago, we thought we should rethink this, just for liability’s sake,” Mr. Tomes said. “It would be in our best interest to have all our CCD classes in one location.”

Father Current revived the building committee and asked Msgr. Ivan Vap to help as a consultant. Mr. Tomes and members of the building committee determined that a new handicapped-accessible, 6,300 square foot parish hall with a brick façade, six classrooms, a new kitchen, a combination office/library and a general meeting room with seating for 200 or more would cost $450,000.

When the committee presented this to the parish, they were met with overwhelming support.

“As of now, parishioners have already pledged more than $350,000,” Father Current said.

He is impressed and gratified by the response.

“It’s hard to do for a parish this size,” Father Current noted.

Besides pledges, contributions are coming in in different ways. Ladies of the altar society are making headway on plans for the kitchen. A parishioner who has earth moving equipment is leveling the land to prepare for construction as the building committee entertains bids from different contractors.

Father Current believes the new building will give Saint Patrick parish many more opportunities for social gatherings, educational programs and community outreach.

“We already meet once a month for coffee and rolls, but there could be parish dinners scheduled more often,” he said. “We could have the adults meeting for education in the hall while the children are meeting in the CCD classrooms.”

Recently, the parish rented out the auditorium at the public high school for a special screening of the film, The 13th Day. Father Current envisions these movie nights taking place in the new hall, which will be equipped with a viewing screen and other technology.

Mr. Tomes, who was baptized in the parish, is looking forward to what the new hall will do for the parish.

“I wish when my kids were younger, they would have had an opportunity like this, he said. “It just seems like it’s been a long time coming.”

After the groundbreaking, the parishioners joined the bishop and other guests for a delicious meal, celebrating the work that is about to begin.

“It’s just a great feeling that this is all finally coming into place,” Mr. Tomes said.

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