By Bob Reddy (Florida Catholic)
The Patronal Feast Day of St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples marked a key moment in the history of this faith community; as it was on this special day that ground was broken on the new Parish Community Center.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated a Mass on Feb. 22, the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle, and presided over a prayer service and blessing ceremony before the groundbreaking. The Bishop congratulated the gathered faithful for responding to the call of Jesus Christ with their support and presence on this historic day.
â€śYou have helped move St. Peter the Apostle Parish forward in its history,â€ť Bishop Dewane added. â€śNever forget the blessings the Lord has provided to bring your entire Parish Community to this point as you take the next step forward into a bright future.â€ť
St. Peter the Apostle Pastor Father Gerard Critch was overwhelmed by the moment, noting the long-term commitment and sacrifice of many people to make the groundbreaking possible. He noted that the new Community Center will reflect the Parish: â€śA place to the encounter the living God.â€ť
The Parish Community Center is part of a multi-phase effort to handle the rapidly growing Parish which has seen a 54 percent increase in registered parishioners between 2008 and 2014 alone. Today the Parish has more than 8,000 families with Mass in three languages: English, Spanish and Creole.
â€śAs our congregation continues to grow, the space will be utilized to conduct many different activities such as extra Masses, classes and Parish events,â€ť Father Critch explained.
The Capital Campaign, â€śTogether, Led by the Spiritâ€ť included a just completed addition of 190 parking spaces and now the Parish Community Center which will replace the existing Parish Hall.
The 13,000-square-foot building will be able to easily accommodate more than 600 people, triple the current building. In addition to a full kitchen, the space will have movable partitions to allow the sectioning off areas for many different uses. Stained-glass windows from the old hall â€“ which was the church â€“ are being converted for use as free-standing works of art.
The structure will be going into the existing footprint and will have a canopy going from the Center to the Parish Church. The columbarium, which cannot be moved, will be abutting against the new Community Center. Construction is expected to begin in April and look towards completion by Christmas.