BRIGHAM CITY — Members of St. Henry Parish filled their new social hall on Jan. 12 as Bishop Oscar A. Solis blessed the building with holy water and prayer.
“God manifests and reveals his goodness in many ways. It is revealed not only in the building that stands here, because a church is not a building only – the church is a community of persons,” Bishop Solis said, speaking in Spanish as well as English. “What gathers us here today is our faith in Jesus, who is the capstone that unites us together. … We recognize the presence of God not only in the blessings that we enjoy, like this new social hall, but we enjoy the blessing of God in his presence among us when two or three are gathered as one faith community.”
Bishop Solis asked for God’s blessing on the social hall as a center for parish activities and as “a place where all may come to know one another and give witness to their faith in Christ.”
The hall symbolizes a faith community, “a people that gathers to share the gift of life, the gift of joy and the gift of being together as one family,” the bishop said. “So I hope that whenever you come together in this social hall as a church you recognize our unity and relationship as family, as brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Father Patrick Reuse, pastor, opened the celebration with a prayer. After the building was blessed, he thanked by name many of those who were involved in bringing the project to completion.
The project began when the parish wanted to address the need for bathrooms, which prior to the renovation were downstairs in the old social hall and not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Now the bathrooms are in the same building as the church, in a hallway that joins it to the new 3,000-square-foot social hall. The hall also boasts a new kitchen.
“We about doubled our space for the community,” said Donna Meyersick, a member of the project committee.
The accessibility of the hall is also important, said Knights of Columbus Grand Knight George Fuller. In the past, when the Knights sponsored a breakfast, it was difficult for many of the older parishioners to get down the stairs into the old hall, but with the new hall, which now will be the venue, “I hope that we can do a lot better on the breakfast,” he said.
The project overran its cost estimates because prices went up 20 percent before construction started, said Deacon Karl Meyersick, who was a driving force behind the project.
“If it was this time last year, we’d have been under budget,” he said. “But we’re still, I believe, at a place with the mortgage that we can handle, through the generosity of these people. I just get tears at how hard they have worked and the energy that they have used to invigorate this whole parish.”
Parishioners held several fundraisers for the project, including a kermesse by the Spanish-speaking Catholic community in Tremonton, and a parish youth who created a calendar using photos he had taken.
After the calendar sales were announced at Mass, another young parishioner, Rachel Esparza, decided to make something to raise money as well. She created sugar scrubs in different scents and sold $800 worth of the beauty product.
“We’re so proud of what these children in our parish did to help raise money,” said Kelly Esparza, Rachel’s mother.
Another benefactor was the family of Pauleen Dolling, a parishioner who passed away a little over a year ago.
The parish hall “was a big dream of hers for a long, long time,” Kelly Esparza said, adding that a relative of Dolling’s offered to match dollar for dollar any money that was raised, so Rachel’s fundraiser resulted in $1,600 for the project.
Now that the hall is complete, it can be used for parish events such as funeral receptions. The old hall will be used for religious education classrooms, Fr. Reuse said.