On September 10, 2017, we had an unwelcome guest come and wreak havoc across our state. Hurricane Irma had devastated regions of the Caribbean and continued her destructive path as she reached our shores. For the past six months our parish has been restoring the buildings that were hugely impacted by the storm. Our social engagements were canceled due to the extensive work that needed to be done on the Ballroom. Many of you may recall seeing photographs of our ballroom being reduced to concrete walls and floors.
Now that the Ballroom is almost complete, we are now faced with the second major restoration of the Church building. We have been informed that the whole roof structure was compromised in Hurricane Irma as well as the beautiful cedar ceilings that hang high above the nave of the church. In short, both the roof and the ceiling need to be replaced. Involved in the scope of work to be done on the church is the replacement of all the side doors as well as the door behind the altar. Most of them buckled under the hurricane force winds that bombarded our sacred space. The church building was also flooded, which has created the need for all the carpet to be replaced. In order for all this extensive work to be done, we will be closing down the church building for the summer on Friday, June 22, after the Daily Mass. Masses will begin in the Ballroom on Saturday, June 23. Had the church building been totally destroyed, we, who are Christ’s Body, would still remain. You are Saint John the Evangelist Church!
Saint John the Evangelist Church is going to be moved just a few hundred feet! The good news is that our Mass Schedule will not change. Our weekend Masses and weekday Masses will be held in our beautifully renovated Ballroom, as well as other liturgical celebrations. Statues and a crucifix, along with sacred furnishings, will adorn this temporary sacred space. People will be free to come and pray during office hours in this liturgical space. Once inside comfortably, you realize that you are there to spend time with God. This will truly mark a new beginning for all of us at Saint John the Evangelist Parish. I suspect that you will be very happy when you see the finished product. We now have a totally renewed space where first we will worship, and, then, later have fellowship. There is plenty of parking available at the side of the Ballroom to help with you come to Mass.
We also celebrate new beginnings as we look forward to a “soft opening” of the Pulte Family Life Center sometime in late August or early September. This building is going to offer over 30,000 square feet of engagement and fellowship. The Pulte Family Life Center will be a third place where you can come to relax and socialize, workout or be entertained, learning new and innovating ways to be part of your faith community. The dedication of the Family Life Center will take place at noon on January 19th, 2019. Bishop Frank J. Dewane will be in attendance to bless our new building. There will be a wonderful festival to follow.
I offer my gratitude for your patience these past few months as you have endured cancellation after cancellation of events due to the slow progress of our construction efforts. Obviously, this industry has been inundated with many requests from many residents in our county who suffered damage from Irma. We are hoping that all of our buildings will be reopened by the beginning of Advent this year. Most of our buildings will be totally renewed and almost like a new build. Moving forward, we will have structures that we are really proud of, which will house the many thousands of events that we house each and every year. With our new addition of the Pulte Family Life Center, we will create hundreds more. As we continue to move through the year, we will be celebrating new beginnings as we move into our renovated spaces. We are St. John! When all is said and done we will be St. John Strong!!! In the meantime, let us stay focused on our mission as a parish, “To know, to love, and to serve God, in our community and the world!”