SANFORD--- “The building itself is made sacred by the memories of so many people and the events that have happened here and by the way lives have been enriched here,” said Bishop Robert P. Deeley. “It is such a blessing that all of that can happen again in this new project.”
On a beautiful fall afternoon, city officials, community members, and parishioners of St. Thérèse of Lisieux Parish in Sanford gathered together at the eventual site of the new St. Ignatius Apartments on St. Ignatius Street for a ceremonial groundbreaking on Monday, October 17.
The project includes the transformation of the former St. Ignatius Church and the construction of a new building to produce 66 units of affordable senior housing. The new facility, slated to open in the fall of 2017, will include 65 one-bedroom apartments and one efficiency apartment for individuals who are 55 years and older and meet income limits.
“Whenever we look to the interests of our neighbors and the local community and serve them in the spirit of humility and generosity, we are, in a sense, God’s own co-workers,” said Bishop Deeley before sprinkling the site with holy water.
During the ceremony, Sanford Mayor Tom Cote called the prospect a “win-win scenario” for both the future residents and the city itself.
“Our seniors are Sanford’s foundation. It’s truly exciting that this project will allow them to live in the heart of the community that they helped create,” said Mayor Cote. “Our seniors will move into their new homes in this familiar and comfortable environment to build decades of new memories, allowing them to stay close to their children and grandchildren and help stimulate growth and revitalize our downtown.”
The work began on the site in early September. The foundation for the new building that will stand next to the existing church building has been poured, and demolition work on the three floors of the original building continues. The Pine Brook Corporation, the general contractors for the project, hope to have the walls and roof of the new building up before winter arrives.
St. Ignatius Church closed in October of 2010, and several of the attendees at the ceremony on Monday looked at the renovations and construction with a sentimental eye. The church, for generations, served the area as a spiritual home, a place to worship, and a sacred space. To see the building receive a second life consistent with the mission of the Church evokes memories and brings joy to many local residents.
“The parish is very excited that this cherished part of our faith will be used in great concert with the values that we hold in the Church,” said Fr. Philip Tracy, pastor of St. Thérèse of Lisieux Parish. “In this Year of Mercy, we open our hearts to the needs of our elderly who have done so much to establish this church and this city.”
Fr. Tracy also noted that a strong collaboration between the city and the diocese enabled the project to come to fruition. In an illustration of that relationship, Bishop Deeley, Fr. Tracy, and David Twomey, the chief financial officer for the diocese, were joined by Mayor Cote and Jim Nimon, the executive director of the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council, to shovel the dirt during the groundbreaking.
Even with the completion and dedication of the facility set for a year away, anticipation is already high.
“People are calling to see if they qualify to live in the building,” said Mike Pease, the site manager. “We’ve had over 70 people contact us already.”
If you or a loved one are interested in living in the new St. Ignatius Apartments, you are asked to call (207) 636-7341 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.