Bishop Richard J. Malone paid a visit to St. Paul Parish in Kenmore for a special occasion, the completion of a new addition to the parish in December. The bishop blessed the new gathering place, a parish center, after that morning's 11 o'clock Mass before a gathering of clergy and members of the parish community.
"Congratulations on this beautiful achievement and your great commitment to Upon This Rock to strengthen the resources of your parish and the work of the diocese," said Bishop Malone, also commending Father Joseph Vatter, the parish's pastor, for his work. "It's a great design feature to bring together the old and the new, so it's just a beautiful thing."
The bishop noted that the center is the result of "much work and prayer." He continued by saying, "It will be a center for parish activities and a place where we may come to know one another, and give witness to our faith in Christ."
Petitions read, before the bishop blessed the room with holy water, included good intentions for the church and parish and that those who use the center will continue to grow in spirituality and faith.
"May all who come here know the presence of Christ, experience the joy of His friendship and grow in His love," the bishop added.
"Well, we did it, and I just thank you from the bottom of my heart. Now, what we have to do is get more people active in the parish to use this place, and be a sign to Kenmore that the future is only beginning," Father Vatter commented.
The parish center is a welcome addition to this community and a new beginning since St. Paul School closed, and that building will soon be renovated into an apartment complex. According to Father Vatter, the sale of the former school building gave St. Paul's money to begin renovations.
"When I first came here, they said that we had to do something with the school. Luckily we had somebody who was willing to buy it, so that gave us some money to start our renovation. Then, we got a construction company and people to do all of the necessary adjustments," he said, recalling how he had to live in the rectory of nearby St. Andrew Parish for six months while they renovated. The actual construction of the center was finished at the beginning of September.
Father Vatter also said that since the parish will no longer have access to the school building, the community needed a new place to have religious education and other activities. Plans for the parish center, in addition to these, include renting it out for private events such as baptism parties or wedding receptions.
Bishop Malone emphasized that while St. Paul Parish has a new parish center, from a theological standpoint the church itself is the center of the parish, and the faithful should not forget this as they celebrate liturgy each week.
"The real center of parish life is where we celebrate the Eucharist. The source and the summit of everything we're about as Christians happens right here," the bishop said in his homily. "Here it is that we are given God's word to guide us, to inspire us, to console us and sometimes to challenge us."
"Here, we receive the Lord in communion. We are nourished week after week and, for some of you, day after day. We are nourished and strengthened to keep on driving, to keep on praying on that journey upon which our baptism has thrust us."