Cardinal Keeler blesses St. Joseph Center

June 23, 1997


Staff Writer

HALFWAY - With the clanging of church bells and more than 300 voices singing in prayer, Cardinal William H. Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore, blessed the new parish center Sunday at St. Joseph's Catholic Church.

In a ceremony that led priests, parishioners and well-wishers in a processional from the church pews to the new center's doors at 17630 Virginia Ave., Keeler blessed the 12,000 square foot facility and cut the ribbon to allow people inside for the first time.

"We may now rejoice in the new building, where the family can come together - not only as we do here, sacramentally, but also socially," Keeler said.


Construction began in November for the $1.3 million parish center, which houses a small chapel, parish offices, eight multi-purpose meeting/classrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and a large social hall dedicated to the memory of Father Kloman F. Riggie, who conceived the project.

A large plaque with his name and picture is featured inside of the new Riggie Hall.

Construction workers also erected an enclosed walkway between the 400-family parish center and church, bringing all facilities under one roof.

"My biggest impression is that the parishioners are thrilled to have this facility," said Father Keith Boisvert, who called this event a day of thanksgiving. "This will enable them to be much more of a presence in the area."

He foresees the new addition as a center for routine Sunday school classes, adult faith education sessions, youth group activities, coffee and doughnut breaks after church and other assorted social activities, including an ice-cream gala in July and a crabfest in August.

"This will give us a place to gather and a place to plan to better serve the community," said Janet Lathan of Hagerstown, who has lead church psalms with her husband and youngest daughter for about a year. "This will give a real lift to the heart of the parish."

The project was sparked by Riggie, who had served as St. Joseph's pastor for six years and died one month after construction began. Although Riggie could not witness the final product in full form, Boisvert said "he's here in spirit."

"I think this is a dream come true for him," said niece Ellen Riggie, 55, of Westminster, Md., who attended the dedication ceremony with two sisters and two brothers. "The family is very proud of the legacy he's left here."

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