St. Pius X, Rock Island, begins work on church hall addition

By: By Tom Dermody (Photo by Robin Heiar)

ROCK ISLAND — With prayers for the safety of workers and gratitude for the generosity of a parishioner whose gift made the project possible, St. Pius X Parish here broke ground Saturday for a new church hall addition.

Construction began this week on the one-level, 4,700-square-foot addition to be attached to the north entrance of the church. It will include a catering kitchen, a hall with seating for 120, table and chair storage, and restrooms.

Its design will include a circular exterior to blend in with the church, which was dedicated in 1964.

Before blessing the site and joining members of the building committee to turn the first shovels of dirt following the 4 p.m. Mass on Aug. 22, Msgr. Mark Merdian, pastor, expressed gratitude to Richard McCarthy, a longtime member of St. Pius Parish who donated $1.5 million to the parish through his trust. McCarthy died in 2008.

“I am excited about this new space that will allow us to build more community and help us to know, love and serve the Lord more in each other and all who use this new addition,” said Msgr. Merdian.

He explained that a task force was appointed three years ago under former pastor Father Michael Schaab to identify parish needs. When Msgr. Merdian succeeded Father Schaab in 2014, an implementation committee was appointed to take parish recommendations and see the project through to its completion.

A key aspect of the new hall will be that it is connected to the church, said Msgr. Merdian.

“What’s going to be wonderful is this new space will allow us to gather on Sunday for coffee and conversations — to go right from the church into the building,” he said at the groundbreaking. It will also be utilized for funeral luncheons, Bible study, RCIA, wedding rehearsal dinners, and children’s liturgy of the word.

The parish’s existing Farrell Hall is used on weekdays during the school year as the cafeteria for Jordan Catholic School.

“There are so many possibilities,” said Msgr. Merdian at Saturday’s groundbreaking ceremony. “The work we are beginning today should enliven our faith and make us grateful,” he said.

The project is scheduled for completion by next March. The general contractor is Precision Builders, Inc., of LeClaire, Iowa. The facility has been designed by the “Green Design Team” of Gere/Dismer Architects, KJWW Engineering, and Missman, Inc., all of Rock Island.

Pictured at groundbreaking ceremonies (above) are, from left: Deacon Joe Dockery-Jackson, Father Jeremy Freehill, Jeff Dismer, Barbara Roedel, Robert Noe, Msgr. Mark Merdian, Richard Yeager, Connie Cray, Cathie Whiteside, and Vernon Wegerer, project coordinator. Members of the implementation committee not pictured are Kevin Koski and Tom Lawrence.

More photos from the groundbreaking, including an architect’s rendering of the hall project, may be viewed on The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook.

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