For almost five years the parishioners of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Crofton, have been waiting for an expansion and renovation of their 26 year-old church. After a few setbacks, construction has begun on a two-story addition with the first floor dedicated for the youth of the parish and the second floor for the new parish offices.
“We have never had a room primarily for the youth,” said Father Edward Connelly, pastor. With about 100 young parishioners joining in youth activities, he said, they need a place to call their own.
“They don’t want to just sit about a table,” he said.
With some 1,900 registered families coming in and out of the church for weekend Masses, the entrance can become quite crowded, said Father Connelly. To accommodate the parishioners and make them feel more welcome, the entrance of the church will be expanded and renovated. The present administrative offices will be removed to enlarge the narthex which will be made into a welcome space. The wooden doors of the church will be replaced with large glass doors to see into the church and let more light in.
“We want to be welcoming,” said Sister Helen Milano, S.S.F., former director of religious education. “We want them to want to stay around. I don’t think we have made the most of this space.”
Since the parish has begun its annual Lenten activities, parking will be a problem due to temporary trailers and construction equipment. Some of the seating in the church will be temporarily removed so the construction workers will have room to work.
According to Father Connelly the new wing and renovation of the front of the church will be finished late summer or early fall. This will be the first time since the church was built in 1981 that the tabernacle will be moved into the sanctuary area for safe keeping. The choir, which normally crowds about the altar steps will have an extended area and new location where it can lead the congregation in song without interfering with the people’s view. An area has also been reserved for a permanent baptismal font, which at the moment is moved in and out of place for Baptisms.
“Welcoming people is the reason you do any kind of expansion,” said Sister Helen. “You want them to feel comfortable. We want your parish to be a place where they belong so the people will be able to minister to others about their baptismal call.”
Sister Helen said she wants to parish to be a place where people can come together to celebrate the good and bad times in their lives with their fellow parishioners and the Lord.
“It brings the domestic church into the local church,” said Sister Helen.
Father Connelly, who has been at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton for some 20 years, is excited to see the estimated $2.3 million project finally happening and he knows that the parishioners are anxious to see the finished product they have waited so long for.
“It’s is a sigh of relief because it has been a long time coming,” said Father Connelly.