St. Thomas A' Becket parish moves into new building
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"Fulfilling the Promise" is the name of the St. Thomas A' Becket capital campaign launched in 2006 to raise funds for a new church building.
"Now we can see the promise has been fulfilled," the Rev. Robert L. Seeman said.
He is pastor of the Jefferson Hills parish, which celebrated its first Mass in the new church Sunday. Bishop David A. Zubik of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh presided at the dedication and was the main celebrant at Mass. The new church is located on the same grounds as the former church at 139 Gill Hall Road.
Built on a hill overlooking the corner of Beams Run and Gill Hall roads, the $8.2 million, 30,000-square-foot church includes a 750-seat worship space, rectory, parish offices and a 100-seat chapel.
There is space on the lower level for a social hall.
The parish also increased parking with handicap accessibility and traffic flow.
Architect was Astorino of Pittsburgh. General contractor was A. Martini & Co. of Verona.
Father Seeman said a new facility was needed because of more families moving into the area, resulting in a rise in parish membership from 1,000 families in 2000 to about 1,600 families today.
The new church is a blend of the old and the contemporary. The old is refurbished religious items from closed churches in McKeesport, such as tower bells from St. Stephen; 18 stained glass windows from Sacred Heart; and marble and wooden liturgical furnishings from Holy Trinity.
A modern, unique feature is the lighting on two back walls designed to accent the liturgical seasons, such as purple for Advent and Lent.
"It's a dream that our people have had for all these years," Sister Mary Judith of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth said.
The parish was started by 200 families in 1957.
Masses in the early years were held in a local high school, and in a building at 509 Gill Hall Road, where the pastor now resides.
The "temporary" church which served the parish until last week was built in 1965, and will eventually be turned into an activity hall.
For 30-year parishioner Terry Soffa, finally getting a new church was pure joy.
"I've waited all these years for this church to be built," the South Park woman said.
Fred Saffer agreed and was impressed with the architecture.
"You can see the altar from every angle -- there are no pillars," the Jefferson Hills man said. "I think it's wonderful."
First Published September 27, 2012 5:42 am