Mt. Carmel breaks ground on new center

$2.7M project will be complete by summer 2020

NILES — Groundbreaking has been held for a $2.7 million family parish center to be located next to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish off Robbins Avenue.

The Rev. John Lavelle, pastor of the church, said the project on the 21,000-square-foot center will take one year to complete.

Members of the parish, capital campaign members and city and county officials took part in the groundbreaking ceremony July 13. The parish festival began Wednesday.

“We have just begun with the breaking of ground. May the construction of this parish center allow us to continue to serve in God’s name. May the undertaking we begin continue to allow the progress day by day. May our faith make us worthy to build grace upon grace,” Lavelle said.

He said work will begin later this summer to get as much exterior work done before winter.

Lavelle said in addition to the center, the project also includes parking lot work and tearing down the old office building west of the parish, bringing the total project cost to $3 million.

More than 250 people attended the dedication and dinner.

The building will include a large state-of-the art kitchen, classrooms with movable walls, a social hall that can seat up to 400 people and a Mass chapel.

Nancy DeGood of Howland said the center will help bring people to the parish for events and Mass.

“The center will be fantastic and something for all ages at the church. It will be great to be under a new building to prepare food there and hold dinners and programs,” she said.

Joe Merlo of Niles, who served as chairman of the summer festival, said, “It is wonderful to see everyone gather together for this major event, which is for the future of the parish. Without the support and strength of this parish, this center could not have happened. We are very blessed to have this center.”

Jim Cuchna of the parish’s finance council said many members of the parish are excited to know a new center can be used for many different activities and events starting next summer.

“There will be a new chapel, meeting rooms, kitchen and classrooms. This is the best thing to happen for Mount Carmel in years,” he said.

The campaign for the building is known as “Project 2020: A Vision for the Future.”

Members of the church have said when they cook for events — such as the festival — in the basement of the church, they have to carry everything up and down stairs. The new center will allow everything to be done on one floor.

The Blessed Mother Society, which is a combination of the Infant Jesus of Prague Guild, the Mt. Carmel Society and Immaculate Conception Society, pledged $125,000 for the daily Mass chapel.

Other groups, families and Lavelle also have pledged to the project, with many families donating $25,000 each for classrooms that will be used for training, young adult education and meetings.

A statue of St. Simon Stock, an Englishman from the 13th Century who is usually associated with the devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, has been commissioned and will be placed at the back of the church next to statues of St. John Paul II and St. Mother Teresa.

“We look forward to building on to the new legacy when the parish was founded in 1906,” Lavelle said.

A sculpture will be commissioned listing the names of donors.