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Church opens parish office office

March 06, 2007|by MARLO BARNHART

BOONSBORO - After 138 years as a vibrant and active congregation in this growing community, the members of St. James Catholic Church finally have a church office to call their own.

"The members have needed an office ... a place to call home," said the Rev. Steve Hook, who is serving as administrator of both St. James and St. Augustine's in Williamsport. "They've never had a priest present during the day."

Before the office opened, parishioners who needed to talk with a priest didn't have any area in the church to accomplish that.

"Often we'd take a walk because there was no place in the church to meet privately," Hook said.

Geri Lind, president of the parish council, said she was pleased that the church's presence in southern Washington County has been enhanced by the new office site.

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The church building on North Main Street in Boonsboro is across the street from the building housing the office.

"I saw this building was for rent," Hook said. It had been a house but was able to be revamped for the church's needs.

On the first floor is an office for Hook and a secretary, who often is a volunteer. There is also a small kitchen.

Upstairs, there is another office for Joseph Gousie who is a permanent deacon.

The office also will make it easier to drop off or pick up items dealing with church business. For now, the office will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from Tuesday through Thursday.

The telephone number is 301-432-2887.

Perched at the entrance to Shafer Park, the church office is at a choice location on a large lot that Hook said he sees as a valuable asset for demonstrating the church's mission when activities are planned in the park.

"A mission church, St. James is a growing congregation and more growth is expected," Hook said.

There are 340 families at St. James. Average attendance at the 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday Masses draw about 325.

Hagerstown Trust Co. allows parishioners to use its parking lot across the street from the church for masses.

There are more than 100 youngsters in Christian education, so many that their Monday meetings are held at Boonsboro Elementary School.

Hook said the parishioners are excited about the new office which is giving them a sense of moving forward. "There was a definite desire to move ahead," he said.

The original church building had to be torn down in the 1960s. The congregation met elsewhere until the current building was erected at the same site.

As the church's 140th anniversary approaches, the congregation is contemplating a bigger expansion. A parcel of about 18 acres along Md. 67 that was purchased six years ago could be developed as a site for a church, Hook said.

"We're working on a master plan," he said.

Ordained 3 1/2 years ago, Hook is from Lutherville, Md. Previously he administered three parishes ,but now is concentrating on St. Augustine's and St. James.

"This is what you do before you get your own parish," Hook said.

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