St. Mary Basilica Parish is happy to announce the grand opening of its new Family Life Center on Sunday, September 23, at 3:00 pm. Construction/renovation work has been completed since June 2012, and there is ongoing work on the furnishing and equipping of the center. As a parish, we are blessed to have this new facility, and we pray it will be a place of spiritual renewal and a great church home for our congregation.
Photos by Father David O'Connor
Now that the new Family Life Center is almost ready for the formal dedication, we, the St. Mary congregation and leaders, extend an invitation to all interested members of the Natchez and Miss-Lou community. This invitation is also extended to individuals/families who were baptized or married at St. Mary and who no longer live in Natchez, to former congregation members, to friends and supporters of St. Mary. Please mark your calendar and plan to join us to celebrate this historic occasion. The theme chosen for this happy occasion is Reflect, Rediscover, Rejoice in our Catholic Faith. Present parish members are encouraged to extend our invitation to their family members and friends.
The property on which the new Family Life Center is constructed was purchased in 1991. It was leased to the City of Natchez and Alcorn University 1999-2009 for use as a Farmer's Market and coffee shop. Between 2007-2010, parish task-forces and planning groups developed the footprint, the interior spaces and the exterior design. The main segment of the new building, approximately 10,000 square feet, includes a commercial style kitchen, restrooms, an assembly area to seat 300-400 people, classrooms, a parish theology library, office spaces, conference rooms, a nursery, and a gift shop.
In the event that this center might be needed as an emergency shelter at some future date, it has showers installed for that purpose.
In addition there is a youth wing, that is approximately 6,000 square feet, that has a snack area, a reading/prayer room, breakout rooms, and technology systems suited for educational and social purposes. Parish leaders believe that the completion of the new youth wing could not come at a better time. All of our youth programs have grown in recent years, and we anticipate that the design and lay-out of the Family Life Building will become a church home for all age groups in the congregation. It is also felt that this new youth and family oriented center will become a creative way of supplementing the religious education program of Cathedral school and provide faith formation programs for adults and families of the parish.
The September 22-23, 2012, weekend will highlight the Catholic Faith in Mississippi. It will recognize 300 years of Catholic activity in the Natchez area and mark the 175th anniversary of the establishment of the Catholic Diocese for the entire state of Mississippi, named as the Diocese of Natchez. It will also launch Pope Benedict's 'Year of Faith,' scheduled to begin the first week of October. The weekend activities, in addition to the formal dedication by Bishop Joseph Latino, will include an all-day program on Spiritual Renewal and Evangelization by nationally known lay Catholic evangelist Gus Lloyd and a Youth Fest. Details of these activities will be announced in the near future.