New center offers space for ministries
GATES -- Parishioners and staff at Holy Ghost Parish on Coldwater Road have a little more elbow room thanks to the renovation of a former convent into a parish center.
At the cost of about $120,000, the building, which had served as a convent since 1957, was renovated from January to June of this year, according to John A. Smith, a parishioner who coordinated the renovation. The last two School Sisters of Notre Dame still living at the convent moved out last year, noted Greg Allen, Holy Ghost pastoral associate.
A member of the Holy Ghost finance committee, Smith said the renovation monies were raised through the diocesan-wide Partners In Faith capital campaign, which is funding several diocesan initiatives as well as parish-based ones.
Smith said parish offices were formerly located on the first floor of the rectory, with the pastor living on the second floor.
"The rectory was designed as a home, not an office," he said. "It really was an inefficient way to run an office. It wasn't convenient as an office, and it certainly invaded the privacy of the pastor's residence." Allen added that the rectory as an office "was very cramped. We didn't have adequate meeting space."
The two-story convent has been converted into a building that houses the parish's offices as well as faith-formation services and programs; adult-education courses; youth activities; and parish clubs, groups and activities, he said.
During the renovation, an air-conditioning system was added to the former convent; a ramp was built to make the building accessible to people with disabilities; and a first-floor restroom -- which is also accessible to people with disabilities -- was installed. On the first floor, the parish center contains the pastor's office; a parish office with a reception desk and waiting area; a Holy Ghost Cemetery office; a large conference room; a parish community room; and a fully equipped kitchen. On the second floor are six pastoral staff offices, including that of Lori Osgood, director of music and liturgy.
"It's just wonderful to have the space to expand our programs," Osgood said.
"Separating these offices from the rectory makes the building more accessible to staff and offers flexibility in the scheduling of evening appointments with parishioners," Allen added. "The rectory office closed at 4:30 p.m. ... so it wasn't possible for us to meet people in the evenings." The rectory office was closed to allow the pastor to have some privacy, he noted. "People can come after work (to the new center), and don't have to leave work early."
The center's basement also has rooms that have been used since before the renovation for the parish's preschool and kindergarten religious-education classes, Allen said, noting some touch-up work was done in the classrooms.