ST. GEORGE — After more than a year of waiting, St. George Parish can once again use its main meeting space.
The parish’s strategic plan called for Kuzy Hall to be renovated almost two years ago. However, the project was delayed for about 18 months because they couldn’t find an architect who was available due to the growth in southern Utah and the Las Vegas area, said Father David Bittmenn, pastor.
Kuzy Hall is named after Father Paul Kuzy, CPPS, who served as the parish pastor from 1984 to 1997. The building has a large meeting space, four classrooms and a kitchen. Most of the parish groups use it at one time or another; funeral lunches and parish retreats are also held there.
Once an architect was available and a contractor was hired, the hall was closed in August of last year. Then, “They took all the insides out,” Fr. Bittmenn said. “They took the ceilings down, they took the floors off. They took the walls out. They took the old air conditioning out. The old heaters out. They found a small leak that they had to fix, with the mold and everything else. They had to do some work on the west façade of the building because they found some damage over there. And then, we put it all back together.”
In addition, the kitchen was remodeled to meet commercial standards, and the parking lot was leveled and resurfaced.
The project faced additional delays because the pandemic struck while it was under way, causing the delivery of some materials to be held up, Fr. Bittmenn said. There also were unanticipated problems, such as the water line not having the capacity they expected, so a new pipe had to be laid, and the elevator needed work.
About the only thing that went smoothly was the generosity of the donors and parishioners, Fr. Bittmenn said. In particular, one anonymous donor gave the final $390,000 needed to pay off the debt.
No sooner had the hall opened than groups began to use it; just recently the calendar called for various meetings almost every night one week, and on the weekend the Spanish-speaking community held a retreat there. The pandemic has caused an even greater demand for the hall, because its space allows people to spread out physically to meet the social distancing requirements called for by the pandemic, Fr. Bittmenn said.
The parish also has begun to livestream the weekend Masses into Kuzy Hall, “so we can have more people come to church,” he said.
St. George Parish serves 3,500 to 4,000 families, but even with extra chairs placed in the entrance the church seats only about 600 people, so “we’re in the position of knowing that there’s a large group of people that don’t come to church because there’s no room,” Fr. Bittmenn said.
Because of this, and because the St. George area continues to grow, the parish is beginning the process of planning for another church to be constructed in the nearby city of Washington. In addition, an anonymous donor has offered to help construct a church to replace the house that now serves San Pablo Mission. Long-range plans also call for a church to be built in Ivins.