ROCHESTER — Our Lady of the Americas Parish opened its new ministry center to the community Aug. 1 in the former St. Francis Xavier/Holy Redeemer school building.
The building will now house the parish’s food cupboard, furniture ministry and Matthew’s Closet clothing ministry as well as faith-formation classes and the Oregon-Leopold Daycare Center. The food and furniture ministries had been located at the former Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, while Matthew’s Closet was located at the school building, which is adjacent to Corpus Christi Church.
Following the clustering of Mt. Carmel with Corpus and Holy Redeemer/St. Francis Xavier in 2005, the three parishes officially became Our Lady of the Americas Parish at the end of 2007. Last fall, Mt. Carmel and Holy Redeemer/St. Francis Xavier closed and the future of the ministries housed there initially was up in the air.
"God has provided," said Sister of Mercy Julia Norton, who oversees the food cupboard. "People thought everything would close down, and it didn’t."
The ministry center’s opening was part of the annual Community Day event that was started seven years ago by St. Francis Xavier/Holy Redeemer parishioners. During the event, Father Vincent Panepinto, Our Lady of the Americas’ pastor, consecrated the center with oil and blessed the mission of the ministries.
"We dedicate this building in its service to the poor … to help people with food, clothing and furniture," Father Panepinto said.
Priscilla DeJesus, Our Lady of the Americas’ pastoral minister, said about a dozen agencies also participated in the Community Day to offer information and such services as fingerprinting of children and voter registration. Local businesses also donated food and raffle prizes, she added.
Father Panepinto said that about 300 people attended the daylong event, which also featured volunteers from Irondequoit’s St. Margaret Mary Church who oversaw the children’s games table.
The Irondequoit parishioners also helped plan the Community Day event, said DeJesus, noting that their participation was a result of the two parish communities coming together during Lent for a series of soup suppers.
"This is our sister parish, and we wanted to help," said Mary D’Agostino from St. Margaret Mary.