Rectory groundbreaking signals the start of a transformative project for the Catholic Church in Sanford

SANFORD---Calling it a sign of the new vision for the Catholic Church in Sanford, Father Wilfred Labbe joined with members of St. Thérèse of Lisieux Parish and students from St. Thomas School on Monday, September 11, to break ground for a new parish rectory.

“Today is the first part of our unifying of Sanford, bringing us all together as one,” Father Labbe said.

The rectory will be located in a field next to St. Thomas School and is the first part of an ambitious project that will also include building a new parish center and, eventually, a new school gymnasium. Together with Holy Family Church, the school, and parish offices, which already exist, Father Labbe envisions creating a new Catholic corner in the city.

“The work we are beginning today is a sign of the vibrancy of the Catholic community in Sanford. It signals the new vision for a community: a vision of oneness, of closeness, and of faithfulness to the mission of spreading the Gospel,” Father Labbe said. “We have a vision of having the Church once again being the center of life in Sanford, and the first step is the rectory.”

The rectory will replace the current one that is located about two and a half miles away at the former Notre Dame Church in Springvale. It will be a colonial-style building with suites for two priests as well as a guest room. It was designed by Cheyenne McGrath from Lassel Architects of South Berwick and will be built by TPD Construction Company of Sanford.

The rectory is expected to be ready for occupancy by spring, which is about the time that Father Labbe said he hopes work on the new parish center will be able to begin. Currently in the design phase, the center will include a parish hall as well as meeting spaces and classrooms.

Parishioners who gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony said they are excited about the new rectory and what lies ahead.

“I think it’s wonderful because we’re a growing parish,” said Sandy Jalbert. “We really need it. We have a lot of wonderful parishioners, and we’re wanting more younger families to come in, and maybe this is going to help that situation.”

“You build something new, and very often people come, so that is the vision that Father has, and every one of the parishioners, I believe, is thrilled about this,” said Claire Auger.

During the ceremonial groundbreaking, Father Labbe offered a blessing, praying that the project “may progress day by day to its successful completion.” He then sprinkled the ground with holy water, before digging into the soil. The shovel used was the same one that was used back in 1959 to break ground for Holy Family Church, and Father Labbe said it will be used again when the time comes to begin work on the parish center.

Wide shot of groundbreaking
Students leads interecessions
Father Wilfred Labbe blessing
Groundbreaking posed photo
Ceremonial groundbreaking
Father Labbe on bulldozer