Bishop Felipe Estévez blessed and rededicated the 40-year-old Catholic Center (11625 Old St. Augustine Road, Jacksonville) Thursday, Aug. 26, after a $650,000-renovation.
The diocesan Savings and Loan Committee assisted in making the funds available for the renovation project. For the past two years, the building had been showing signs of serious deterioration. Since purchasing a new office was not an option due to budget, the project required the Catholic Center staff to work offsite.
The renovation included capital infrastructure repairs, new flooring, carpet, paint, ceilings, cabinetry, audio and visual equipment, improved monitoring and security, signage, landscaping, and more. A major obstacle to the project was moisture intrusion through humidity and roof leaks. The mitigation extended the reconstruction by a few weeks. The total restoration took approximately three months to complete, and the staff moved into the building at the end of March.
The blessing and rededication took place around a new statue of St. Augustine of Hippo that graces the front of the Catholic Center facing the street.
“You may be surprised that despite the terrible COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating variants we face, great blessings do happen for all in the Diocese of St. Augustine because Creation is very good,” remarked the bishop. “The date of today’s ceremony was chosen because it was close to the feast day of St. Augustine (Aug. 28), the patron saint of both the city and the historic Diocese of St. Augustine – the Mother Diocese of Florida.”
Bishop Estévez also thanked some key members of the renovation team, including Msgr. Michael Houle, episcopal vicar for the diocese and Steven Bell, diocesan chief financial officer.
Following remarks from Lester Del Rosario, diocesan director of real estate, planning and property development who oversaw the renovation, a reflection was given by Deacon David Williams, diocesan director of history and heritage and former chancellor to the bishop.
“For Catholics, our buildings matter… they stand for something that goes beyond the merely functional – they represent something symbolic or sacramental,” said Deacon Williams as he addressed special guests and diocesan staff. “Each one of you plays a crucial role in God’s plan for this diocese. You are God’s coworkers, and, in turn, you represent the bishop of the diocese. But, in a very real sense, you are the face of Jesus Christ and his Catholic Church to others that come here looking for help, answers, and hope.”
“You are ‘the building,’ and the work you do here is very different,” he said. “It has meaning. It is symbolic of the love that is Jesus Christ.”