GREENVILLE, S.C. — In January 2011, St. Anthony of Padua School posted a YouTube video to promote fundraising to replace a 55-year-old crumbling building. Just over a year later, after that video has been viewed more than 4,000 times, St. Anthony’s — supported by the entire community — broke ground last month for its new building.
“We broke ground on Feb. 26 for the nine classrooms, gymnasium, chapel, cafeteria, administrative wing and monumental spiral staircase,” said pastor Patrick Tuttle, OFM. Some 300 people “of every stripe” were there to cheer and show support, he said, noting that senators, council men and women and people of many faith traditions and economic classes were present to “witness a mark in time.”
Paul Williams, OFM, pastor of St. Joseph Church in Anderson, S.C., served as master of ceremonies, and Fr. Jay Scott Newman read a congratulatory letter from Charleston, S.C., Bishop Robert Guglielmone. Patrick said Rev. Sean Dogan, pastor of nearby Long Branch Baptist Church “gave a moving speech as a graduate of St. Anthony School.”
Rev. Dogan said: “There were days when my family couldn’t pay and you never put us out,” adding that he was never treated as though he were poor by anyone at St. Anthony School.
“Our dream has come true,” said Mary Corner in the March 8 issue of The Catholic Miscellany. Corner is a 1958 graduate of the school and member of the parish staff.
A group of volunteers with BonaResponds, a St. Bonaventure University student organization that aims to help others through volunteering, traveled from Western New York to Greenville to set up the groundbreaking ceremony among other projects to help the parish. In a letter to SBU president Sr. Margaret Carney, OSF, Patrick described the students as “young people with big hearts, strong arms and great ideas.”
The decision that the previous structure needed to be replaced led to a citywide appeal to help meet a $5 million capital campaign. In just over one year, the school has already raised $4.7 million. “In today’s unprecedented economic times,” said Erena Allen, St. Anthony’s stewardship contact, “this is truly a witness to God’s plan at work.”
“By the time we finish building,” Patrick said, “we will have paid for the building, three years’ operations and the beginnings of a substantial endowment for faculty salaries and student scholarships, so the mission can continue to serve the poor.” Construction is expected to be complete in early 2013.
The new building will allow the student body to expand by roughly 40 percent, and students will be able to play in a “normal school gym for the first time ever,” Patrick said. With an average graduation rate of 38 percent in Greenville schools, St. Anthony currently graduates 94 percent of its students.
“It will be a great day to walk across the threshold with our children,” Patrick said, “revealing to them the treasure chest we have made for the treasure that they are.”
— Rebecca Doel is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.
Editor’s note: Photos from the groundbreaking ceremony can be viewed on Picasa and the school’s Facebook page.