At a grand-opening event marked by laughter, tears and gratitude, Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan blessed the Catholic Charities Community Center on Adams Street last Friday, June 28.
“Isn’t this place something,” Cardinal Dolan said. “The word miracle’s been used and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. When you come in here you feel right at home…There’s a warmth; there’s an embrace…That’s what we like and that’s what people need and deserve.”
The building was bought by Catholic Charities in 2009 and was being renovated with a $2.1 million state grant after a fire on Dec. 21, 2010 wracked considerable damage to the three-story former St. Peter’s School building. The roof collapsed and there was smoke and water damage throughout the 18,000-square-foot structure.
On Friday, after offering his blessing, the cardinal splashed holy water and joked, “This is a fire retardant, too.”
The Catholic Charities center, formally known as the Father Edmund Burke Ulster County Catholic Charities Community Center, is at 6 Adams Street on a property perched above lower Broadway in the Kingston’s Rondout District. Fr. Burke, formerly the priest at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church on lower Broadway, attended Friday’s ceremony.
The center was about a week away from opening when the 2010 fire set back the renovation effort. Following a second round of renovations, the center now is home to the offices for Ulster County Catholic Charities; a food pantry run by the group; the Agri-Business Child Development agency that offers early childhood education and social services to farm workers’ families and other eligible families; and a large gymnasium for Catholic Youth Organization sports programs. The gym hosted Friday’s ceremony.
Rebuilding the center relied on teamwork and hard work. Thomas J. Kelly, Regional Director of Ulster County Catholic Charities, extended special recognition to Johann Huleatt on behalf of the Bruderhof Community and Community Playthings for their gift of equipment and toys for the renovated waiting room and Tom Urtz and Lew Foote on behalf of ShopRite Supermarkets and the Wakefern Group for their donation of wire shelving and refrigeration units used in the center’s new food pantry.
“Who goes to Catholic Charities?” Cardinal Dolan asked a crowd that included Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, New York Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, Kingston Mayor Shane Gallo and a host of others.
“People who have no where else to go,” he answered. “That’s what this is about…You got somebody hungry; You got somebody who needs legal help, … immigration help …a loving, safe, tender place for their kids. You need some place where our people can recreate. They come here because there’s a magnificent diversity of ways that we welcome people as family. We honor their human dignity. We recognize them as a child of God.”