Last July, the congregation of St. Jude Parish was nearing the required fundraising goal of four million dollars for a new church building. This past weekend, approximately 75 members of that congregation witnessed, in very concrete terms, the fruits of their labor with the symbolic start of what will become a new foundation; both literally and figuratively.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the new St. Jude Church took place at the conclusion of afternoon mass on Saturday under an overcast and threatening sky. Diocese of Scranton Bishop, Joseph Bambera led the ceremony with prayer and words of faith and celebration.
“I look out over this community… and I am proud to say what a wonderful community this is; what a viable sign to all of the kingdom of God here in our midst.” said the Bishop “May we always build a community of faith today in a literal way and years from now, after your church is built, may you continue to build community to teach the good news to worship with sincerity with faith and to serve your brothers and sisters.”
After a reading from the Bible by Deacon Gene Kovatch, Bishop Bambera, Father Joe Evanko, pastor; Father Jeff Tudgay, assistant pastor; Father Jerry Shantillo, former assistant pastor; and members of the Parish Building and Finance Committee moved the first shovelfuls of earth to begin construction. Seminarians Jonathan Kuhar and Ryan Glynn, as well as representatives from Sordoni Construction and the Wright Township Supervisors were also present.
A new building to house St. Jude Parish is not a new idea; in fact, Father Joe knew full well when he returned to St. Jude’s in 2009 that he would most likely be given the task of overseeing the construction of a new church. Early conversations and preliminary arrangements about such an expansion started nearly 25 years ago, and as late as ten years ago, the idea was tabled in favor of renovations to the school building. The last seven years have been spent in committee, working through financial plans, design possibilities and architectural specifications. The Diocese of Scranton required at least half the money be raised before moving forward with construction permits and final building specifications. To date, Father Joe says the parish has raised $5 million.
“The support of the parish has been wonderful,” said Father Joe as he credited the collaboration of the various committees, parish council and parish and school staff. “This has been a long time coming.”
Father Joe has explained that while every pastoral assignment has its challenges, this task is an exciting one and he has expressed what a privilege it has been to work with so many people of the congregation that are chipping in to make this happen.
“There have been hundreds of people working very hard with the whole parish to be able to provide a