‘Spectacular’ new St. Philomena Parish Center in Peoria is completed, blessed

Guests arrive for the April 26 celebration dinner and blessing ceremony for the new St. Philomena Parish Center in Peoria. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

After describing it with superlatives including “spectacular” and “beautiful,” Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, blessed the newly completed St. Philomena Parish Center in Peoria before a celebration dinner at the $4 million facility on April 26.

About 200 dinner guests look on in the banquet room as Father David Richardson, pastor, welcomes them to blessing ceremonies for the new St. Philomena Parish Center in Peoria. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

“This is going to be an engine for all the things you do,” said Bishop Jenky of the 20,000-square-foot parish center, located just north of the church at 1000 W. Albany. Featuring a large banquet room for funeral lunches and wedding receptions, a catering kitchen, parish offices, meeting rooms, and a multi-functional basement, the facility is connected via a walkway to St. Philomena Church. The south wall of the banquet room is all glass, offering a view of a courtyard and garden established between the brick church, built in 1953, and the new parish center, which features a matching red brick exterior.

Praising the parish and its pastor, Father David Richardson, for focusing on evangelization before and during the major building project, Bishop Jenky prayed that “all who come here know the presence of Christ and grow in his love.”

He then sprinkled the first bit of holy water, with Father Richardson completing the task by walking throughout the facility, dousing every room.

“IT’S BEEN A GREAT YEAR”

Parish staff moved into the parish center on March 17, a little more than one year since groundbreaking ceremonies.

“May all who come here know the presence of Christ and grow in his love,” said Bishop Jenky as he blessed the St. Philomena Parish Center. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

The year of construction was visually portrayed through an eight-minute video shown to the 200 dinner guests prior to the blessing ceremony. Using time-lapse photography overseen by Aaron Cunningham — a parishioner who is technology coordinator at Peoria Notre Dame — the video not only showed the building take shape from start to finish but also featured narration by Father Richardson explaining the parish’s need and hopes for the parish center.

Father Richardson expressed the gratitude of the parish to the late Richard Griffin, whose $3.2 million estate gift helped St. Philomena start planning for the long-anticipated project in earnest. The bequest was followed by a successful $2 million capital campaign on the theme “Living Our Faith, Building Our Future,” with $1 million earmarked for improvements to the church, school, rectory, and parish grounds.

“It’s been a great year,” said Father Richardson. “So many people have been a part of this project,” he said, including the parish finance council, trustees, building and capital campaign committees, Dewbury Architecture and River City Construction.

Prior to construction of the parish center, funeral lunches or guest speakers could only be hosted in a room in the rectory basement that was neither large nor could accommodate persons with physical handicaps.

Noting that the parish’s efforts in evangelization — St. Philomena Parish and School have both recorded substantial growth in recent years — Father Richardson said “this building is going to enable us to do it in so many ways.”

Father Richardson sprinkled holy water in every room of the parish center, including this one which will house the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd religious education program for young children. Assisting is altar server and St. Philomena School eighth-grader Ike Akers. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

On the first floor, in addition to the banquet room and kitchen, is a gathering space called “The Link” that welcomes visitors using the walkway from the church. It has casual couches and chairs for socializing and small group discussions. The north side of the facility includes a series of parish offices and meeting rooms, and there is also a parish library room dedicated to St. John Paul II.

The basement, accessible by stairs or elevator, has a spacious area designed for athletic activities and children’s recreation, nursery and babysitting rooms, and “atrium” rooms to house the parish’s religious education program for young children called Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. The basement also affords a place of safety should tornado warnings be issued during Masses or gatherings.

“We really look forward to the ministries that can now take place,” said Father Richardson.

Bishop Jenky noted that, while the facility is beautiful, “it really is just bricks and mortar. The real important part is all of you. You are the body of Christ here in the heart of Peoria.”

More information on the project, including the video recapping the building’s progress, can be found at campaign.stphils.com.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Additional photos from the blessing ceremony have been posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook.

 

 

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