Gannon University is partnering with the Our West Bayfront (OWB) community as demonstrated through the recent groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the St. Joseph House of Faith in Action.
Administrators, students, community members and the Board of Trustees gathered at 457 W. Fourth St. Friday afternoon to witness the blessing of the ground that will soon be the home base of Erie- GAINS’ newest strategic initiative.
The St. Joseph House will serve as an outreach center of Gannon’s Center for Social Concerns (CSC) with a mission to “humbly serve neighbors in the spirit and example of St. Joseph the Worker through purposeful programs and actions based upon four pillars of service, simplicity, community and reflection.”
To those who have attended an Alternative Break Service Trip (ABST) with Gannon, those four pillars may sound very familiar.
The St. Joseph House will use the same pillars as ABSTs in order to carry out a similar mission.
The home was built to house two permanent Gannon employees in the heart of the OWB community.
These employees will have the opportunity to stay at the St. Joseph House for affordable rent while they save funds to purchase their own home in the neighborhood.
At the same time, the St. Joseph House of Faith in Action will also feature a community gathering space for groups who may choose to use the home for a variety of reasons including CSC and Campus Ministry related programs and Alternative Break Service Trips.
The St. Joseph House may also be used to house students from other universities or organizations who choose to perform service in the West Bayfront.
This space will accommodate 12-15 individuals for overnight stays and will be built with a commercial kitchen.
The St. Joseph House of Faith in Action is being funding through a variety of generous donors including the family of President Keith Taylor, Ph.D., and his wife, director of University Wellness, Mary Jean Taylor, Ph.D.
Building Systems Inc. (BSI), the company currently renovating Nash Library, has also committed to partner and has engaged local supply houses to do the same.
BSI in conjunction with Gannon’s maintenance staff have agreed to manage the volunteer build of the house between students, faculty and community members who wish to get involved.
Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony included a welcome by the Rev. Michael Kesicki, associate vice president of University Mission and Ministry, as well as remarks by Jessie Badach Hubert, associate director of the Center for Social Concerns, and Seph Kumer, director of engagement at the First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant.
A blessing was led by the Most Rev. Lawrence T. Persico, bishop of the Diocese of Erie and chairman of Gannon’s Board of Trustees.
“The work we are beginning today should enliven our faith and make us grateful,” Persico said.
“…may God bring the construction to successful completion and may the Divine protection keep all those who work on it safe from injury.”
Erika Ramalho, director of Community and Government Relations, read a scripture as part of the ceremony. Her reading was followed by intercessions.
Caren Raahauge, a sophomore mortuary science major, took part in the reading of intercessions and the blessing of the St. Joseph House.
Intersessions were also read by three local Erie school district students.
“I think [The St. Joseph House] will help professors who need to find a place to stay close to campus whenever they are hired as well as help students get involved in all aspects [of wellness] including spiritually and physically,” Raahauge said.
“I am really excited to see what it brings to the Our West Bayfront community as well.”
Construction of the St. Joseph House of Faith in Action will begin in the upcoming weeks and is set to be completed in May 2018.
Students or faculty interested in volunteering with the build should contact Joseph Mokwa at firstname.lastname@example.org.