by Savanna Kearney

The St. John Paul II Catholic Mission in Ponte Vedra celebrated the opening of a new Early Learning Center Saturday, Oct. 20, at 5 p.m. The event began with Mass celebrated by Bishop Felipe Estévez, assisted by Father Edward Shaner, priest-in-charge of Blessed John Paul II Mission, Deacon Scott Conway, superintendent of Catholic schools, and Father Leonard Chuwa, system director of ethics and formation at St. Vincent’s Health Ministries, with the Knights of Columbus in attendance.

Bishop Estévez reads a blessing for the new St. John Paul II Early Learning Center. (Photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Woody Huband)

“It is wonderful to have a Catholic school at this primary – foundational level,” he said. “What a difference that makes when God can be honored, and at the center of the whole enterprise.”

The bishop also thanked Deacon Conway for his leadership and dedication in the building of the new early learning center.

At the end of the Mass, Father Shaner, on behalf of the parish, presented Bishop Estévez with a gift of limited-edition writings of St. John Paul II.

“John Paul II is such a great figure in a lot of our lives, and even today his writings…apply to today’s issues,” said Father Shaner.

Bishop Estévez sprinkles holy water throughout the rooms of the new early learning center. (Photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Woody Huband)

After Mass, there was a reception in the new early learning center, where the bishop sprinkled holy water throughout the building, and said a blessing for the teachers and staff and for the students.

St. John Paul II Early Learning Center, which serves students ages six weeks to 4 years old, opened August 13 and, according to the bishop, has a capacity of 277 students. Built by Scherer Construction, the building is 16,605 square feet and $3.8 million.

To learn more about St. John Paul II Early Learning Center, visit https://www.stjp2elc.net/.