By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
St. Albert the Great Church has completed a construction project that its pastor, Father David Harris, said will help to further the parish’s mission — to inspire people to love, serve and know God and one another.
St. Albert, located at 1395 Girard Drive, just completed a new Parish Life Complex by renovating two existing buildings and connecting them to a new structure. The project took about a year starting last September. The new complex, a $3.2 million project, has created 28,000 square-feet of much-needed space, said Larry Brunner the parish’s business manager.
The project was accomplished by constructing a conference center capable of seating 200 people. The new space features surround sound system and movable walls, which allow it to be used as one large room or three separate rooms. The conference space includes a fully-equipped kitchen, which was needed for events such as bereavement luncheons, said Brunner.
The other part of the project involved renovating Willett Gymnasium, which received hardwood floors, new paint,
updated bathrooms, sound
absorbing fabric and a new outdoor concession stand. The space above the gym was turned into a gathering space for youth. Windows were added to that space to overlook the newly built conference space below.
The second renovated building, Hendricks Hall, houses preschool and kindergarten rooms. It was the original convent built in 1966, said Brunner. The old building received new lighting, and a fourth preschool room was added to the structure, allowing the preschool to have its biggest class of 72 children this school year.
The new parish life complex sits to the rear of the campus, between a green space and the school building.
Father Harris said the parish has “big plans” for its new space. The intention was to make it a space to be used in a multitude of ways by all ages, he said. It will serve to reach out to kids, adults and young people to help them “grow in their faith,” said Father Harris.
His hope also is that the new complex will lead to the growth of the athletic ministry and the school. The new structure has already contributed to the growth of St. Albert’s preschool, noted Father Harris. Adding the new preschool room helps in “reaching people and drawing them into the life of the community” at St. Albert, he said. Many young families are coming into the community, Father Harris added.
The fact that the buildings are connected is one of the features that make the new complex stand out, he said.
It creates a “sense of unity and community that ties us together. We hope that as people are using the space they are seeing others and reaching out,” said Father Harris.
Charles Stafford, who serves as chair of the parish’s pastoral council, believes the space will foster community.
“The space will allow ministries to grow and help us bring people together for fellowship,” said Stafford. “It’s an extension of the church where people can gather.”
Stafford likes that the renovated youth space now has windows. He envisions the youth who gather upstairs will see the adults gathered below and want to emulate them. The space, he said, leads to “natural engagement” and everything feels more connected.
Stafford also likes that the new conference room is surrounded by large windows that allow others to see what’s going on inside, he said. Hopefully, it will inspire others to get involved, he said.
He added that the project has “re-invigorated the whole parish.” He believes, like Father Harris, that the new Parish Life Complex will help St. Albert’s mission.
The new complex will be dedicated Sept. 16 following a 10:30 a.m. Mass at which Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz will preside.