Bishop dedicates remodeled parish

The St. Paul Catholic Community in Leesburg recently celebrated their new church with a dedication Mass on Feb. 4. The $4.2 million renovated house of worship was blessed during the Mass celebrated by Bishop John Noonan.

Originally built in 1977, the latest makeover consisted of completely remodeling the building to include more than 28,600 square feet with seating for almost 1,200 parishioners. While more than doubling the square footage, the church added a sacristy, choir loft, additional confessional room and more.

St. Paul committed to building a green facility, reusing as many materials as possible. Pews were refinished. The wood from the old cupola was used to build the new baptismal font. It is now at the entrance of the church, symbolic with the sacrament’s importance as the gateway to the faith.

The stained glass windows were saved and repositioned to better explain the faith stories. The new altar was blessed with chrism oil and incense to receive the body of Christ. “In Scripture, St. Paul tells us to preach the Gospel and in order for us to preach the Gospel, we must live it,” shared Bishop John Noonan. “We realize the source and summit of our life is from God, Whom we receive in the Eucharist. As Jesus offered, “Do this in remembrance of Me,” the altar consecrated is the focus of the gift of this Eucharistic presence as we are called to be a Eucharistic people, to go forth and bring the Real Presence of Christ to all.”

The church also added some tech upgrades like new monitors, projections screens, and equipment to enable livestreaming- a far cry from the first wooden mission. Parishioner Vi Pfahler remembers when the City of Leesburg gave permission for a Catholic church to be built. Her father crafted all of the woodwork in the 1950s. Today, only the poor box is left, but she says, “The church was always an important part of our life. I’m just so glad to see it growing and thriving.”

Father Mark Wadja, Parochial Administrator, is extremely pleased with the expert craftsmanship. “Although this renovation project has been many years in planning, the new building is a tremendous testament to the strong faith community here in Leesburg and their dedicated support for our parish,” he said.

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic – February 1, 2018