St. Mary releases family life center plans

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 26, 2010

NATCHEZ — St. Mary Basilica has released architectural renderings of its new family life center, which will eventually house educational, spiritual and youth programs.

The center was once the Main Street Marketplace, located adjacent to St. Mary. The Rev. David O’Connor said in a news release the Main Street property was purchased 19 years ago, and was leased by the City of Natchez for a farmer’s market and café until recently.

“It is our hope that this center will create a sense of community and belonging for all our church members and will provide a welcoming and friendly church home for everyone,” O’Connor said.

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St. Mary worked with a local architect company, Waycaster and Associates, and a consultant from Boston to finalize exterior renderings for the center, which will adopt the Gothic style of St. Mary, Design Committee Chairperson Donna Martello said.

Fundraising Committee Chairman Todd Waycaster said St. Mary has wasted no time developing site plans.

“The plan for the new center calls for incorporating the Marketplace building into the new structure in order to avoid unnecessary additional costs,” Waycaster said. “The front of the building will be extended to Main Street, new restrooms and a kitchen will be constructed, and an assembly area to seat 300 people will be developed.

“An entirely new youth wing will be constructed on the Rankin Street side of the building. On the Main Street end of the building will be a gift shop, meeting rooms, a theology library and a nursery with contemporary features. We also intend to add two showers because this center might serve as an emergency shelter in time of disaster.”

Finance Council Chairman Thomas McDonald said the projected cost of the project is approximately $2.5 million. The church invites all members to donate to its capital funding campaign according to their ability. Commitment Sunday is set for this Sunday.

“We hope that every congregation member will contribute in a sacrificial way, and if this happens, the entire project may be undertaken at one time,” McDonald said. “We have completed the restrooms, and we will begin work on the kitchen within a few weeks. By then we will know the results of the campaign, and that will determine if the project has to be done in phases.

St. Mary hopes construction of the youth wing will begin by mid-summer.