Parishes | Schools | Priests | Masses |
More in this section MAIN MENU

Marian Center dedicates new play and fitness area

Staff, students celebrate, credit late founder for ‘sprinkling her magic’ from heaven

English Spanish

Sister Carla Valentini, one of the original 12 Sisters of St. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo who opened the Marian Center, cuts the dedication ribbon along with Archbishop Thomas Wenski and Toni Acocella, PTA president, as students hold the ribbon and the cushion with the scissors.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

Sister Carla Valentini, one of the original 12 Sisters of St. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo who opened the Marian Center, cuts the dedication ribbon along with Archbishop Thomas Wenski and Toni Acocella, PTA president, as students hold the ribbon and the cushion with the scissors.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski tries out one of the slides on the play structure of the Sister Lucia Sport and Fitness Park at the Marian Center.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

Archbishop Thomas Wenski tries out one of the slides on the play structure of the Sister Lucia Sport and Fitness Park at the Marian Center.

MIAMI GARDENS | On what would have been the 97th birthday of Sister Lucia Ceccotti, their founder and guiding light, Marian Center students and staff celebrated by dedicating a new fitness zone/play area at the school.

“Sister Lucia blesses us with her knowledge and wisdom,” said PTA president Toni Acocella. “She continues to sprinkle her magic on the Marian Center. She is in heaven working for us. Let’s all wish Sister Lucia a happy birthday!”

Acocella was joined at the May 5 event by the Marian Center’s parents, board members and archdiocesan officials, including Archbishop Thomas Wenski, who tried out one of the new playground’s four slides after the ribbon-cutting and blessing.

“This is wonderful. It’s good to get in shape, myself included,” he said afterward. “I hope you students will play and exercise and become strong in both body and spirit.”

The Marian Center is a fully-accredited school, established in 1963, that educates, trains and serves about 120 children and young adults, ages 6 to 21, who have developmental disabilities. Its adult day training center provides continued education, including recreational, social, and occupational services, for clients older than 21.

The center is located on 50 acres in Miami Gardens, adjacent to Msgr. Edward Pace High School and St. Thomas University.

The new Sister Lucia Sport and Fitness Park “has poured-in-place rubber safety flooring to absorb impacts,” said David Prada, senior director of Building and Properties for the archdiocese, who oversaw the construction of the new area.

Marian Center students and staff watch as Archbishop Thomas Wenski blesses the new Sister Lucia Sport and Fitness Park.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

Marian Center students and staff watch as Archbishop Thomas Wenski blesses the new Sister Lucia Sport and Fitness Park.

The fitness area at the new Sister Lucia Sport and Fitness Park at the Marian Center has six exercise machines: a bench press, hand cycle, leg press, chest press, cardio walker and elliptical.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

The fitness area at the new Sister Lucia Sport and Fitness Park at the Marian Center has six exercise machines: a bench press, hand cycle, leg press, chest press, cardio walker and elliptical.

He said the facility was designed and built by Beyond Your Ordinary-BYO Recreation of St. Augustine, a nationwide distributor of playground equipment.

The new facility includes a play structure for climbing and sliding, swings, and a renovated basketball court that can also be used for volleyball, tennis and boxball. The fitness area has six exercise machines: a bench press, hand cycle, leg press, chest press, cardio walker and elliptical. Except for the basketball court, all areas are covered with a tensile canopy that provides shade from the sun and protects the playground and exercise area.

Sean Clancy, chairman of the Marian Center’s board of directors, also recognized Sister Lucia in his address to those at the dedication.

“We all know that this new facility couldn’t have happened without Sister Lucia and her divine providence,” said Clancy. “I love Sister Lucia. We were fortunate to have had her. Miracles happen every day. Let’s enjoy this beautiful facility.”

Sister Lidia Valli, the school’s exeuctive director and principal, said that the play and exercise zone will do a lot of good for the students.

“They need a lot of hands-on coordination,” she said, adding that educational studies are promoting physical activity along with classroom learning. “This facility is unbelievable. We don’t have words to describe how happy we are with it,” she added.

The Marian Center already has a swimming pool and grounds for playing soccer and other field sports. Students can participate in the school’s in-house Special Olympics and possibly move on to the national event, said school Coach Gloria Oyarzun.

During the dedication, the school’s physical therapist, Ozzie Perez, played Sister Lucia’s favorite song on his trumpet, “Majesty,” and the school’s bell choir performed.

“Thank you to the PTA, board of directors, students and clients,” said Acocella. “You’re beautiful souls that God created. Because of all of you, we are here today dedicating this facility. This is a dream come true.”

The play area cost about $310,000 to build, said Prada. The Marian Center is seeking donations to pay off the project at gofundme.com/sportsandfitnesspark.

View of the new Sister Lucia Sport and Fitness Park at the Marian Center, which includes a play structure for climbing and sliding, swings, and a renovated basketball court.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

View of the new Sister Lucia Sport and Fitness Park at the Marian Center, which includes a play structure for climbing and sliding, swings, and a renovated basketball court.

Latest News

Breaking News

Feature News

School News

Columns

Statements