The St. Mary's Parishioners' Center
“We wanted it to harmonize with the church, and not destroy the sight lines or the beauty of the church itself,” said Father Timothy Cloutier of the new St. Mary’s Parishioners’ Center.
And that’s exactly what St. Mary’s Parish of Waverly got. A beautiful addition, connected to the church by a walkway, yet having the bulk of the new building far enough away from the church as to not take away from the church’s solitary form.
The first meeting to plan for the parishioners’ center took place June 16, 2005. The groundbreaking ceremony took place August 15, 2006, and the building was opened for parishioners in October, 2007. A dedication ceremony with Archbishop John Nienstedt as one of the celebrants took place May 11, 2008.
The parishioners’ center is a two-story building that has ground-level access on both floors. The upper floor is host to a great hall with kitchen and temporary offices that will eventually be classrooms after the lower level is finished. When complete, the lower level will host administration, a youth room, and 16 classrooms/meeting rooms.
“We want to finish one level completely before we move to the next,” Cloutier said.
All the finish work and materials used on the upper level was donated by parishioners, explained parish secretary Mary Pettit. “The amount of in-kind donations is priceless,” Pettit said.
The upper floor also has a unique foyer area large enough to host funeral visitations, overflow for fellowship after Mass, religion classes, wedding reception greeting lines, and just about any type of gathering one can think of.
At first, the foyer area was to be a long, skinny hallway that would serve as a hallway between the great hall and the walkway to the church. Father Cloutier noticed there was a lot of wasted space with that design, and asked the architect if the hallway could be fanned out more towards the church. The result is a triangular-like open space extending towards the church, which opened the otherwise long hallway up.
The design of the addition focused on practicality and how the structure could lend itself to future additions or uses as the community grows.
The first event that the parishioners’ center hosted was the 100th anniversary of Citizen’s State Bank of Waverly, October, 2007.
“There’s nothing like a deadline to get the work done,” Cloutier laughed.
The list of events the parishioners’ center has hosted since October 2007 is diverse and extensive. The variety of uses so far has been “unreal,” according to Pettit.
“We often say, ‘What did we do before we had this building?’” Pettit laughed.
“I learned a lot about buildings that I never wanted to know,” Cloutier laughed. “The only thing I’ve ever put up is a tent.”
Cloutier explained that the building project became a parish project, and that the community came together for a common goal and focus.
“Parish life is much more than Sunday worship,” Cloutier said. “It’s socializing. It’s who you are. Being influenced and enriched by the community is a part of who we are by nature.”
“It’s really nice in the evening, especially looking at the lighting coming through the windows,” Cloutier said. “It’s warm and alive. It’s our own Camelot.”