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St. Mary's parish center is dedicated

February 18, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

The weather kept Cardinal William H. Keeler and about 100 people from the dedication of St. Mary's Augusta Cearfoss Parish Center, but the event didn't go unnoticed Sunday by the church community that watched it grow.

The $1.1 million project, started in June and completed more than a week ago, is an 8,400-square-foot space that includes a reception hall, offices, a youth activities room and a small computer lab, said St. Mary's Catholic Church Pastor George A. Limmer.

Parish Council President Bob Rankin said the reception area will allow the 1,200 registered families and patrons of the church to meet for baptisms, memorial services, general meetings and benefits. He said in the past, groups have had to meet elsewhere, which wasn't quite as accommodating.

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Monsignor Robert Passarelli, who had been pastor at St. Mary's for 50 years and who now lives in Frostburg, Md., said, "It's been something that's been needed for a good while."

Passarelli said he came down Saturday night before the snow began falling to ensure he was on hand for the dedication.

"It's a dream come true," said Linda Moats, who along with her husband David, the project's architect, received a papal dedication for their efforts in bringing the idea to fruition.

David Moats, who has been a lifelong member of the parish, said the project was particularly rewarding for him because he was able to give something back to the church.

Deb Bockrath, chairwoman of the project committee, and her husband, Gary Bockrath, also received papal dedications.

Limmer conducted the mass and dedication before fewer than 100 people in place of Keeler, who could not attend due to inclement weather.

The center was built with part of a $2.3 million donation from the estate of Augusta M. Cearfoss, who was born at the turn of the century.

The church dedicated four classrooms last February as well as other improvements, including a new organ, all of which were made possible by the donation, Limmer said.

Rankin said St. Mary's campus has expanded almost to its limits, and the only plans remaining call for building a handicapped-accessible ramp to the church and keeping the rest of the facilities up to date.

The families are going to benefit the most, he said.

"To watch it grow on paper and then to stand inside it, it's just wonderful," Linda Moats said.

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