RALEIGH, N.C. — On April 25, 1982, the Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi was founded here in what was then a rural area in the northwest corner of Wake County, N.C. Twenty-eight years later, on April 25, 2010, three new buildings were dedicated at the thriving parish of 4,600 families, as parishioners re-dedicated themselves to the mission of the parish.
Raleigh Bishop Michael Burbidge presided at the dedication Mass and later blessed the new facilities. Associate pastor David McBriar, OFM, the first Franciscan pastor, delivered the homily. Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, delivered words of encouragement and congratulations on behalf of Holy Name Province, and pastor Mark Reamer, OFM, recounted the journey over the last five years, from the feasibility study to the capital campaign to the dedication. Also present were visiting friars from the Province and several thousand parishioners.
Expansive New Facilities
The new facilities are the 22,000-square-foot Assisi Community Center that includes a coffee bar, youth center, senior center, and a high school-sized gymnasium; St. Mary of the Angels Chapel, that includes a bell carillon and will serve as a day chapel and a location for meditation and small weddings and funerals; and Elizabeth Hall, with five new classrooms, conference room, teacher workroom and lounge, and serves as the preschool.
As Mark emphasized throughout the process, the buildings are not merely brick and mortar. Rather, through the new Elizabeth Hall preschool, the parish rededicates itself to the mission of the evangelization of young families. He said, “Through the Assisi Community Center, we rededicate ourselves to the mission of outreach for our intergenerational family and welcome with joy all those who come to us. And through St. Mary of the Angels Chapel, we rededicate ourselves to the mission of nurturing our souls with God’s Holy Spirit under the patronage of St. Mary.”
All the new structures were built to the standards of the United States Green Building Council, and are on track to receive gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Certification. The wetlands were also preserved.
Also on April 25, known in the parish as Founders Day, St. Francis of Assisi held GIFTfest, a daylong event that included music, sports, games, refreshments and an outdoor children’s fair.
Fundraiser for Learning Center
The parish is raising money for its Siena Center for Lifelong Learning that will “serve during the day as the Franciscan Middle School and as the hub of the evangelization ministries,” according to the April 25 parish bulletin. “At night and on weekends, the center will provide a home for lifelong faith formation, sacramental preparation sessions, and meeting space for adult ministries.”
The capital campaign target is $1.8 million, according to the parish bulletin, of which “we still need to raise $600,000 before June 30. Together, with your generous support, we will continue to ‘Grow in Faith Together,’ leaving a legacy for future generations.”
— Marc Kielty is coordinator of ministry support at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Raleigh.