Saint’s Place to move offices, donation center to Fairport - Catholic Courier
A woman folds clothing.

Volunteer Mary Pegan folds clothes at the Saint’s Place clothing closet at St. John of Rochester Church in Fairport Nov. 16, 2022. (Courier file photo)

Saint’s Place to move offices, donation center to Fairport

For more than 25 years, Saint’s Place has helped refugees resettle in the Rochester region. This fall, the ministry will do some resettling of its own.

That’s when the ministry’s headquarters and donation center will move from their longtime home on the grounds of St. Louis Parish in Pittsford to a new home on the campus of St. John of Rochester Parish.

The Fairport parish already hosts the Saint’s Place clothing closet in five classrooms in the former St. John of Rochester School building. By late September or early October, the rest of the ministry’s operations will be housed in an additional four classrooms, according to Michele Quinn, associate director of Saint’s Place. The ministry’s annual Super Sale also will move to the St. John of Rochester campus.

“St. John’s has been just wonderful,” Quinn said. “We’re welcoming refugees, and they’re welcoming us. It’s a really nice circle.”

Change will consolidate ministry’s operations at Fairport campus

Saint’s Place has been headquartered in a home owned by St. Louis Parish since 2001, just three years after the ministry began providing household furnishings, clothing and personal items to recently arrived refugees to Rochester. The ministry’s clothing closet moved to the St. John of Rochester campus in 2008, but the house at 46 S. Main St. in Pittsford has continued to house the ministry’s offices and receive donations, which are sorted in the building, Quinn said. Linens and household items for refugee families are stored at the Pittsford house, while clothing donations are brought to the clothing closet. After the move this fall, donations will be accepted and sorted at the Fairport location, she said.

“Being in one location is going to be so much more efficient,” she said.

Since November 2023, Father Mitchell Zygadlo and a committee of parishioners had been working to find a new home due to limited space on the St. Louis campus and a need to consider different options for the house the ministry currently occupies, according to a March 13 press release about the changes.

“The house at 46 S. Main St. worked well for the Saint’s Place ministry for many years. We appreciate the parish of St. John for helping us find this solution. Our parish will continue to support Saint’s Place as many of our parishioners are loyal volunteers,” Father Zygadlo said in the press release.

Saint’s Place will become a ministry of St. John of Rochester, with continuing sponsorship of St. Louis Parish, according to Father Peter Clifford, pastor at St. John of Rochester. This arrangement makes perfect sense, as approximately 50 percent of Saint’s Place’s volunteers are St. John of Rochester parishioners, he said in the press release.

“Many details remain to be worked out; however it is our good fortunate to have this space and be a part of supporting this ministry,” he said.

Preparation for Super Sale will be precursor to ministry’s move

In April, Saint’s Place will begin accepting donations for its annual Super Sale, Quinn said. Donated items may be brought to the ministry’s current Pittsford location, and they will be brought over to St. John of Rochester over the summer, she said.

“It will be a forerunner to our actual move,” she remarked.

The sale will take place Aug. 7-10 in the former St. John of Rochester school building. It previously had taken place in St. Louis School, where it had occupied the gymnasium as well as eight classrooms spread out over two floors, Quinn said. The annual sale features thousands of donated items, including things that would be inappropriate to give to refugees because they would take up too much space in the families’ small apartments or be impractical or difficult for the families to use, she said.

Saint’s Place is on track to help 1,500 refugees this year

It’s not unusual for refugee families to be rather large, Quinn said, noting that the ministry worked with several Congolese families of nine and 12 people. In addition to the refugees from the Congo, Saint’s Place also has helped an influx of refugees from Sudan, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, El Salvador and Venezuela, Quinn said. Legal refugees currently are referred to Saint’s Place by three agencies, Quinn said, noting that in previous years, Catholic Charities Family and Community Services was the only agency referring refugees to the ministry.

“It’s a lot of people. We’re setting up five to 10 homes a week,” Quinn said. “Usually, we help between 1,000 and 1,200 refugees each fiscal year. This year, we’re easily going to help 1,500.”

Saint’s Place has already helped 1,200 refugees, with three months remaining in the current fiscal year, she said.

“I didn’t think we could do it, but we are,” she said. “When you’re doing the Lord’s work, he’s happy to help you.”

Tags: Faith in Action, Monroe County East
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