ORANGE PARK – This year marks the 50th anniversary of the St. Catherine’s Catholic Church on Kingsley Avenue. As with most 50-year-old buildings, there has some wear and tear, which required constant and regular maintenance.
St. Catherine’s parish, however, is taking things a step further.
Demolition started last November on one of the older buildings, Rooney Hall. A new Parish Family Life Center will arise in its place.
One of the hallmarks of the Catholic church is demonstrating faith through service. St. Catherine’s holds many activities but is running low on space and modernity in its former and current buildings.
“Currently, we have lots of activity but not great facilities,” said Father Ignatius Plathanam, a 47-year member of the priesthood, the last six spent at St. Catherine’s parish. “With the new building, we hope to have more people coming into the parish and participating in more activities.”
The new Family Life Center is expected to accommodate 360 in its main area, with a smaller meeting hall that is expected to fit as many as 200 people.
“We have a very dynamic youth ministry,” said Plathanam. “The youths can also use the multipurpose hall [in the Family Life Center].”
Plathanam is happy with the youth ministry but feels as if improved facilities will increase the interest of young people in the church and in the activities offered there. He thinks that young people who may have been unhappy with the facilities at St. Catherine’s may have gone somewhere else and with the new building hopes it will bring them back.
“We also have the seniors exercising, which is open to the public. They are now doing it in Haut Hall [the other main older building which still stands and may be replaced at a later time],” said Plathanam. “They will be able to do that in the multipurpose hall. It will also be used for other different activities such as Scouts. We can also host wedding receptions and other big meetings for which it can be rented.”
The expected completion of the project is expected by the end of November – just in time for the holidays.
“There will be real excitement about the new building. It will be a real boost to our presence. I think it will be a big asset to Clay County and the city. We will be able to be of service in that way, having a very great facility for meetings and conventions and those things,” Plathanam said.