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Local club tours parish center

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:02 PM

Cindy and Tom McLaughlin welcomed members and gusts of the Shakespeare Club to the St. Paul Parish Center recently.

Jim Busek conducted a brief business meeting at which Sandra and Dan White were introduced as new members.

Jon Ditz announced the annual Christmas party will be held Dec. 10 at the Elks. It was decided, since the refreshments are always super gourmet-type fare, everyone should come hungry, and early. Consequently, the meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m.

In addition, the “gift” exchange is to be open-ended which can only mean a whole lot of snatching others’ gifts will be taking place.

The secretary stated unequivocally that the leg lamp is not gong to be recycled. Virginia Poling, however, was trying to make a deal stipulating that Carroll would be forced to return Ralph Fegley’s hat. Everyone should be especially wary because there is a strong possibility the black bustier lamp will be making an appearance along with the toilet seat cover.

There being no further business, Tom McLaughlin was pleased to introduce Walt Klimaski, president of the Norwalk Catholic School, and Tim Fitzgerald, president of the parish finance council, who were to serve as tour guides for the evening.

Everyone present considered it a privilege to have the opportunity to view the beautiful parish center as well as the new additions to the school.

The church’s history began in 1876 with a name change. Prior to this change, the parish was known as New St. Peter’s, founded in 1868, a branch of Old St. Peter’s, dating back to 1841. All of these derived from St. Alphonsus Ligouri.

A two-story brick building, built on two large lots on Hester Street, was dedicated in October 1868 as St. Peter the Apostle. A parochial school, enrolling about 90 students, was opened immediately.

ON Oct. 22, 1872, the present church site was purchased and shortly thereafter New St. Peter’s was renamed St. Paul. In 1876, a two-story brick school was built.

The foundation for the present church was started in 1890 and on Jan. 22, 1893, the present church was dedicated. In 1919, ground was broken for a combined grade and high school and by 1921 the school was ready for use.

Monday’s tours provided the chance to fast-forward to the year 2007, in which 4,071 parishioners joined together in a labor of love and saw the reality of a dream come true with the completion of a $5.3 million dollar building project with 99 percent of the cost pledged and $850,000 worth of time, talents, labor and materials given pro bono. A weight room is on the drawing boards.

Klimaski and Fitzgerald were rightfully proud to show the fruits of all the labor. Janotta and Herner, Inc. were the general contractors and Wasiniak, Inc. provided the stone masons.

Since, at one time, Main Street marked the shore of Lake Erie, it was necessary, and tricky, to design a footer system and solid foundation able to withstand the hazards of building on sand.

The parish center, a huge, yet warm, welcoming and tastefully decorated meeting room, was designed to be energy efficient and adequate enough to hold sit-down dinners for at least 250 persons. Fitzgerald said they have actually been able to seat 300 people for a meal and not feel crowded.

Meticulous attention to detail in interior design is evident to this viewer. For example, stained glass panels from the convent were carefully preserved and mounted beautifully so as to be displayed in various areas, adding a exquisite touch.

The high school, with its bright red lockers, wide and sparkling-clean hallways, beautiful library, state-of-the-art computer and science labs, a huge fish tank for potential marine biologists, lovely chapel and brightly-colored creatively designed wall hangings everywhere convinced everyone that the recently formed Norwalk Catholic Schools is more than ready to meet the technological challenges facing education in the 21st century.

The ultimate impression left with the Shakespeare Club meeting was that t parishioners of St. Paul saw a need and worked together, sharing their talents and gifts willingly, in order to realize their dream. That dram surely exceeded their expectations because their school and parish center are beautifully done and are a fine and elegant addition to our community.

Refreshments were served from a fall-themed table with Sue and Jim Kasten and Jan and Ralph Fegley assisting the McLaughlins with hosting duties.

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