Construction is beginning on the eagerly anticipated parish center at Elmira’s Ss. Peter and Paul Parish.
A groundbreaking event took place May 20, following Ss. Peter and Paul’s 12:10 p.m. liturgy on Ascension Thursday. The ceremony was led by Father Patrick Connor, Ss. Peter and Paul’s pastor since 1992, and was attended by numerous parishioners and local dignitaries.
“There’s just a lot of relief. It’s something we’ve been hoping for, praying for,” Father Connor said of the parish center.
The structure is being built on the site of the former Ss. Peter and Paul School, on High Street across from the church. The school building, which was more than 100 years old and badly in need of repairs, was demolished in early 2003.
Streeter Associates Inc. of Elmira is serving as the project’s construction firm. According to Father Connor, the parish center is due to be completed by November 2004. It has an estimated total cost of $1.2 million, for which approximately 75 percent has already been raised through parish fundraising, donations from the community and grants.
The center will feature a gymnasium to accommodate Ss. Peter and Paul’s Catholic Youth Organization basketball program. Father Connor noted that the facility will also serve as a gathering space for parishioners, and will be available for such community events as receptions and banquets.
Another main feature of the center will be a wing housing the Elmira Free Community Kitchen, an independent outreach. The kitchen, which subsists on volunteer and donation support, serves approximately 100 meals per day Monday through Friday. It had operated out of the Ss. Peter and Paul school building since it was founded in 1981; since that building closed, the kitchen has been housed temporarily at nearby Trinity Episcopal Church.
Father Connor said the new parish center will be a big plus for the city’s east side, stating, “It will help us come together more as a community and maintain services for the Elmira wider community, especially for the Free Community Kitchen.”