Donna Harned can still picture the inside of the Parish Center at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Winter Haven, from her childhood in the 1970s.
It is an easy memory to recall because up until a few months ago, the interior simply had not changed.
On January 3, Harned and her son, Zach, were among the parishioners who joined Father Cromwell Cabrisos, Pastor, and Bishop John Noonan for Mass followed by the blessing of the newly renovated Parish Center.
Changes included fresh paint; new ceiling tiles, new kitchen and bathrooms, cabinetry and flooring; improvements to the plumbing and electrical wiring; and the addition of a gift shop and much-needed storage space. A walk-in refrigeration and freezer were also added to the kitchen.
The results met with a show of approval from parishioners, including Harned.
“This has been a long time coming, and it’s amazing!” she said. “I think the parish will grow even more now.”
The ceremony began with the celebration of the Vigil Mass on January 3, the Epiphany of the Lord.
In his opening comments, Bishop Noonan drew parallels between the parish community and the Magi, who traveled a long distance to offer gifts to the Christ child.
“You have been on your own journey for the past few years,” Bishop told the parishioners. “So I congratulate you, and I thank you for your generosity. After so many prayers, we get to bless this Parish Center. It will be a place where we gather to give witness to our faith in Jesus Christ.”
To support the renovations, the parish raised nearly $1.1 million in gifts and pledges during the diocesan-wide Alive in Christ Capital Campaign. The project marks the first Alive in Christ success story of 2015.