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St. George’s in Post Falls breaks ground on new parish center

The following story appeared in the September 8 Idaho Catholic Register.

Bishop Peter Christensen, Father Sleeva Raju Madanu and others break ground on the new parish center at St. George’s in Post Falls. From left to right, Deacon Vince Perry, Mayor Ron Jacobson, Deacon Mike Pentony, Father Sleeva Raju Madanu, Bob Ellis, Bishop Peter Christensen, Dale Argile, Deacon Erik Schirmer.

(Courtesy Photo/Debbie Ellis)


Deacon Scott Pearhill

Editor


POST FALLS – “When Father Sleeva prays, his prayers are answered.

He must have a direct line,” said Debbie Ellis, parish council president of St. George Catholic Church in Post Falls.


Last year, Father Sleeva Raju Madanu, pastor of St. George’s, highlighted the importance of proceeding with a plan for a new parish center. Part of the fundraising strategy involved selling the aging “CCD House,” as it no longer served parish needs. It was sold, along with three other lots, to raise money for the project.


When the three lots were first mentioned at a Mass on Sunday, “a gentleman came forward and immediately bought them,” said Ellis. Not long after, the parish received a large donation from a parishioner who made a gift to the parish in her will. Just like that, St. George’s had funds to move forward. Currently, the church has received approximately three-quarters of the amount pledged for the new parish center, “which is enough to get a good start on the building,” Ellis explained.


The groundbreaking took place on Sunday, August 20. Bishop Peter Christensen and Father Sleeva helped a large group of approximately 250 parishioners turn over the first shovelfuls of dirt after the 10:30 a.m. Mass. Prayers and songs for the success of this project were followed by a luncheon for the participants, who were all provided with their very own yellow hard hats for the event. The event marked the first phase of St. George’s “Gather and Grow” building campaign.


Father Sleeva’s predecessor, Father Timothy Ritchey, had already identified the need for a new parish center. Father Sleeva, working with the Parish Council, other parishioners and staff, developed the current plan to provide additional space for Catholic education programs, parishioner fellowship, community outreach and space for families with small children to better participate in the Mass.


Father Sleeva said this new parish center “will benefit St. George’s community for decades to come.” He is looking forward to providing increased religious education opportunities to future children and adults of the parish. “Since the old CCD House sale, these programs have been severely curtailed,” said Ellis.


The first phase of the project will include the construction of six new classrooms, the parish office, and space for counseling services, as well as two parish ministries: Mission of Charity, a relief aid agency, and the North Idaho Pregnancy Support Center, which provides compassionate and confidential support to local area pregnant women. Currently, the pregnancy support ministry and the relief aid agency share an office, using the space on alternate days. But in the new parish center, they will each have a separate room with storage.


The upstairs will have an open space for the assembly to gather before and after Mass, with a glass wall to enable parishioners with small children better to participate in the Mass. When additional funds are raised, a new kitchen and church hall will be added to the upper floor. Until then, the downstairs hall will continue to be utilized. An elevator will assist parishioners to access both floors.


One of the first fundraising efforts for the new parish center was initiated by Father Bruno Segatta, a retired priest of the Boise Diocese, who was filling in at St. George’s while Father Sleeva was in India. Father Bruno, an avid painter, helped raise funds for the project by offering a painting class at the parish and a silent auction of his paintings. He also provided an “authentic” Italian spaghetti dinner, cooking the meal in the “correct” way, recalled Ellis.


“Many people have helped the project along the way,” said Ellis. At the outset, a Building Committee was created, including Father Sleeva, Bob Ellis, Debbie Ellis, Deacon Mike Pentony, Betty Ann Pentony, Steve Gonnella, Sherry Gonnella, Don Beck and Tineke Murphy. Bob Ellis also serves on the Diocesan Building Committee and helped develop the design concept for the Parish Center with input from the building committee and other ministries.


In his June update on the new parish center, Father Sleeva wrote, “I want to thank everyone in the parish for the wonderful response to the capital campaign. I am so grateful to all of you for your prayers and generous gifts towards the new building. We are very blessed with the multitude of people and groups who have been working on this project.”


More information about the new parish center, including ways to donate to the project, can be found on the parish website, stgeorgesidaho.com.


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FAX: (208) 342-0224

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