Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Florida Catholic staff - Florida Catholic
Photography: Sister Elizabeth Worley, SSJ
HOLLYWOOD | Four years after conceiving the project and 18 months after starting construction, Nativity Church dedicated its new chapel, office building and residence for parish priests.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski consecrated the chapel in front of a virtual congregation May 3, 2020, as the Mass was livestreamed on the parish’s website and Facebook page. (Read his homily here.)
Father David Zirilli, Nativity’s pastor, said the project solves several space problems for the parish: a lack of meeting space for the ministries; offsite and limited housing for the priests; and the need for a smaller worship space for daily Masses, some school Masses, weddings and funerals.
All three of the new buildings are on the grounds of the old rectory/office.
“The new office is also much more visible and welcoming to our parishioners and visitors – another important goal of ours,” Father Zirilli said.
He noted that the buildings at the church, founded in the 1960s, had not kept up with the growth of the parish or its ministries. The new offices have more than twice the square footage of the old space, with plenty of workspace for volunteers and additional employees. The building also has ample space for ministry meetings, plus plenty of room for future growth.
“We often struggled to accommodate the growing number of ministries that wished to meet at the parish,” Father Zirilli said. “The second floor of our office has approximately 2200 square feet of meeting space, plus a kitchen. This area has partitioned walls, such that the space can be subdivided into as many as four individual classroom-sized rooms, each with its own audio-visual equipment.”
As for the rectory, or priest’s residence, it is now on the parish grounds “which is convenient not only for us but also for our parishioners,” Father Zirilli said.
The previous arrangement did not allow the parish priests to live together in community, which “is not optimal for the priestly life,” he noted.
The new rectory also has space for two additional priests or seminarians, “and in fact, this summer we will have two seminarians with us,” Father Zirilli said.
The 2,500 square-foot chapel will provide additional sacred space on church grounds.
“Our existing church is beautiful, but it is big – too big to keep air conditioned all day and unable to accommodate all the various people and groups that wanted to use it,” Father Zirilli said.
The chapel is big enough to accommodate daily Mass, school class Masses, smaller funerals and weddings, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and other smaller liturgies.
“But it is small enough to keep air conditioned and open during the day so that we can provide a place of prayer for our parishioners anytime they want to come. It also frees up the big church for larger events,” Father Zirilli said.
In keeping with the Nativity theme, the chapel has been named after the Holy Family – a motif writ large in the impressive stained-glass window depicting Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
Father Zirilli said he is especially grateful to the staff of the archdiocesan Building and Property Office for their expertise and guidance, especially during the planning phase, and their oversight during the construction.
“Our vision for this project from the beginning was that we must undertake it for the glory of God and to build up his Kingdom,” Father Zirilli said. “Our prayer is that, with his blessing, we will accomplish his work and that these new buildings will be of great spiritual benefit to the Nativity faithful for decades to come.”
Father Zirilli gives a tour of the new chapel, its stained-glass windows, statues and appointments, in the video linked below.