The hard work and dedication of the parishioners of St. Anne Catholic Church in Ruskin has paid off in a big way. Last month, The Most Reverend Robert Lynch, bishop of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, helped in the ceremony to dedicate the new church to the area.
According to church representative Gene Szczepaniak, the ceremony started before dark in the old church, with a greeting from the bishop, followed by a procession to the door of the new church.
The building was officially handed over to the bishop, and, once inside, water was blessed and sprinkled over the congregation and building and the Mass began.
“The purpose of the dedication is to transform a mere building into a house of worship,” says Szczepaniak. “Two very moving and inspirational moments for me were the bishop’s procession around the church, as he blessed the walls, along with the candlelight ceremony, symbolizing that the light of Christ shines through the church.”
The original church was built in 1956 in Ruskin, and thanks to the influx of new Catholics moving to the area, the new building has been in the planning stages for 17 years.
The pastor of the church, Father John McEvoy, started a capital building campaign in the fall of 2005. The project raised more than $2 million for the fund, with the final tab on the new church ringing in around $6.5 million.
The number of families continues to grow, from about 600 in 2003 to approximately 1,800 currently. Szczepaniak adds, “In 2011 it is projected that this church will serve about 2,000 families.”
The old church was 7,000 sq. ft., and the new one is almost 22,000 sq. ft.
Szczepaniak adds, “The Saint Anne parish family can once again worship together under one roof. Looking around the church now and realizing what a large family we have become makes all the effort and sacrifice worthwhile.”
For information, contact the church at 645-1714 or visit its www.saintanneruskin.org.