Amid many challenges of merging multiple churches into a single parish while following COVID-19 restrictions, three new parish centers are now serving parishioners.
Mary, Mother of God, Our Lady of Hope and Our Lady of Mount Carmel parishes used funds mostly from Our Campaign for The Church Alive! to repurpose existing space into functional offices.
Two of the parishes renovated former school buildings while a third transformed an unfinished church basement into its parish center.
“Our pastors are doing their utmost to discern what buildings will best serve the needs of their new parishes,” said Linda Ritzer, diocesan secretary for Parish Services. “They are taking into consideration all the unique characteristics of the buildings in deciding how they can meet all the many needs of their parishioners.”
Mary, Mother of God’s new parish center is located in the basement of Saint Angela Merici Church in White Oak. Construction began last July and the space was ready in January. It includes parish offices, a social hall, youth ministry room, choir room, conference room, and storage space.
“We are so excited about our new Parish Center. It is going to help us to come together as a new parish and to set hearts on fire with the love of Jesus Christ,” said Father Terry O’Connor. He has created a virtual tour of the new parish center on the parish website, www.marymotherofgod1.org.
Our Lady of Hope Parish is using the former Saint Germaine School in Bethel Park for its new administrative offices.
Saint Germaine’s campus sits in the geographical middle of the new parish boundaries and is accessible via Baptist Road.
“The school building is a perfect spot for the offices, as it boasts many classrooms on a wide floor plan that can accommodate most of our unified staff,” said Father John Skirtich, pastor. “With minimal remodeling and expense, we have been able to more closely collaborate.”
Upgrades to electrical and HVAC systems, and phone and internet services turned former classrooms, school administrative offices and a kitchen into new staffing space.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, in Ross, McCandless, West View and Observatory Hill is also using a former school as its new parish center.
In January, all clergy and staff moved into the new parish center located in the former Saint Teresa of Avila School. The building was completely remodeled. Classrooms became offices and meeting rooms. Existing furniture, copy machines and other materials were repurposed from all four church and office spaces.
“For more than a year and a half prior to the establishment of the new parish, our four congregations worked together to share our resources, staffs and experience,” said the pastor, Father John Rushofsky. “Having laid the foundation, we are excited to move forward with a united purpose, grateful for our past and full of faith in the future.”