Winter Haven parish marks first Alive in Christ success story of 2015

St. JosephDonna Harned can still picture the inside of the Parish Center at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Winter Haven, from her childhood in the 1970s.

It is an easy memory to recall because up until a few months ago, the interior simply had not changed.

“We still had the same restrooms that we had when I was student at St. Joseph Catholic School, and that is a long time ago,” joked Harned.

On January 3, Harned and her son, Zach, were among the parishioners who joined Father Cromwell Cabrisos, Pastor, and Bishop John Noonan for Mass followed by the blessing of the newly renovated Parish Center.

As part of the renovation, the restrooms that Harned vividly remembers were completely remodeled and updated, along with the kitchen.

Other changes include new ceiling tiles, cabinetry, lighting and flooring; improvements to the plumbing and electrical wiring; upgrades to technology and sound; and the addition of a gift shop, covered walkway, and much-needed storage space. A walk-in refrigeration and freezer were also added to the kitchen.

The results met with a show of approval from parishioners, including Harned.

“This has been a long time coming, and it’s amazing!” she said. “I think the parish will grow even more now.”

The ceremony began with the celebration of the Vigil Mass on January 3, the Epiphany of the Lord.

In his opening comments, Bishop Noonan drew parallels between the parish community and the Magi, who traveled a long distance to offer gifts to the Christchild.

“You have been on your own journey for the past few years,” Bishop told the parishioners. “So I congratulate you, and I thank you for your generosity. After so many prayers, we get to bless this Parish Center. It will be a place where we gather to give witness to our faith in Jesus Christ.”

To support the renovations, the parish raised nearly $1.1 million in gifts and pledges during the diocesan-wide Alive in Christ Capital Campaign. The project marks the first Alive in Christ success story of 2015.

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