GREENVILLE—Last spring, parishioners and community members in Greenville departed their beloved church for the final time as the worship site, which was constructed in the 1920s and in need of costly repairs, was closed and weeks later, demolished.
But on Sunday, March 4, the parish community will gather together on the same patch of land on Pritham Avenue. This time, tears of sadness will be replaced with joy as parishioners walk into the new Holy Family Churchfor a Mass of Dedication, celebrated by Bishop Robert P. Deeley, at 10 a.m. All are welcome to attend.
Arriving at this day is a dream come true for the parish which embraced the project after coming to terms with the realization that the old church building needed to be replaced.
“We’d been talking about it for probably eight or ten years that the old building had been deteriorating, and we put band aids on it, trying to keep it, but it got to the point that it was better to invest in a new building,” said Elizabeth Foote, a member of the parish’s development committee. “We have a lot of older parishioners. We’re an aging community, and they couldn’t come to the Mass because of the stairs.”
“It would have been a lot to repair it,” said Steve Bilodeau, chair of the parish’s building committee. “Probably in excess of a million dollars, but you’re still left with a century-old church that is difficult to get in, and that isn’t designed for the community.”
In the summer of 2016, prior to the closure of the old church, the parish launched the “Beginning a New Century of Faith” capital campaign, with a goal of constructing a new church, parish hall and offices, and renovating the rectory. In addition to being energy efficient and containing enhancements like radiant heat in the floor, the new building is one floor with no steps.
“I take Communion to the homebound, and we have a few who are really, really interested in coming back, because they can’t do the stairs,” said Debbie Lynne Baker, the sacristan at Holy Family. “They’re really looking forward to a flat surface to come back in.”
During the planning process, project organizers solicited input from many parishioners and discovered that replicating the look and feel of the old into the new church was important to them.
“I think that parishioners are all going to be pleased that it’s going to have a lot of character, and it’s going to have a lot of history that it will carry forward with it,” said Foote.
Preserving the parish’s history was carefully considered during the planning and construction process, including the removal, restoration, and reinstallation of the nave and sanctuary stained glass windows.
In addition, when it is completed, the parish hall will have the capacity to seat over 150 people and will include a new kitchen.
“We believe that the parish hall will be the nicest room of its kind in town,” said Bilodeau. “We look forward to the wider community using it as well.”
Although there are only about 100 registered, year-round parishioners, more than $1.9 million of the $2 million needed to complete the project has already been received or pledged.
“We’ve had dinners. We’ve had auctions. We had a candy sale,” said Foote. “It’s very generous people.”
The parish community has gathered for Catholic Masses at the Union Evangelical Church during construction. As grateful as parishioners are for the welcome they received, excitement to gather in their new church has reached a near fever pitch.
“God has really blessed the whole project,” said Bilodeau.
If individuals or businesses would like to make a contribution to the “Beginning a New Century of Faith” campaign, please contact the parish at (207) 695-2262 or the Diocese of Portland’s Office of Development at (207) 321-7835. Donations can be made in memory of a relative or friend, or in honor of a birthday or anniversary.