St. Joseph Catholic Church in Manchester opens new parish center

2012-08-03T17:00:00Z 2012-08-03T19:00:24Z St. Joseph Catholic Church in Manchester opens new parish centerBy Mary Shapiro stltoday.com
August 03, 2012 5:00 pm  • 

It has room for up to 1,116 people seated on chairs; it has roof trusses that are 91.5 feet long end-to-end; and it has a total of 53,238 bricks.

If this were the Jeopardy TV game show, the correct question would be "what is the new parish center at St. Joseph Catholic Parish in Manchester?"

St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson and other guests will be on hand for the 11 a.m. Mass on Aug. 26 and a dedication just afterward at the church campus, 555 St. Joseph Lane. Open houses will be held after all Masses that weekend and before the 7 p.m. Sunday Mass.

"Dozens of groups will be able to use the new center," said the Rev. Thomas Santen, pastor of 132-year-old St. Joseph Parish.

Most of the congregation of about 3,500 families comes from Manchester, Ballwin, Winchester and unincorporated West County.

"We're a very large parish in membership, and we've always been undersized in the space we've had available. In the past, if we had two large groups needing space, the question was who would get it," Santen said.

That's why St. Joseph parish launched the Foundation for Our Future capital campaign in 2007, said Jim Sigillito, director of administration for the parish.

The campaign sought to raise $3.7 million in contributions to fund the construction of the new 16,143-square-foot, one story parish center. So far, $2.95 million has been pledged, Sigillito said.

Ground was broken in fall of last year for the center on the south side of the campus, and work is 95 percent done, he said.

"It took 28,500 contractor man-hours to build it, which made us proud to be able to put many people to work," he said.

The campus parking lot has been reconfigured to create smoother traffic flows. That included the restoration of a two-way entrance and exit off St. Joseph Lane.

The parish center is the first phase of a three-phase, 15-year master plan that will include renovating the church and adding a chapel and administrative offices, Sigillito said. The parish center will provide space for Mass when the church is being renovated.

For now, the new parish center will provide space for a variety of parish organizations and community functions. The center will house The Parish School of Religion, which provides religious education for elementary students who attend public schools, provide a lecture hall for continuing education and classes in the Catholic faith.

It will also provide an auditorium for concerts, recitals and plays; reception and dining space for fish fries, sausage suppers and funeral luncheons; and an area for trivia nights, Advent teas, holiday parties and other day-to-day activities, Sigillito said.

"Our new Parish Center will bring opportunities to do more outreach throughout the community," he said. "Not only can we meet the needs of our parish organizations, but those of the community at large too."

The pent-up demand for space is such that the parish opened up the center before it was completed. The first official event there took place Memorial Day weekend with a reception for the Rev. Don Anstoetter, a newly-ordained priest from the parish.

On a recent Friday morning, a parish senior citizen group used the center to make sandwiches to be sent to the St. Vincent de Paul Center for the needy.

"It will provide so many opportunities for the future as we grow into this building as a parish," Santen said.

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