St. Anastasia Church and School in Fort Pierce has an enduring history in St. Lucie County. For 110 years, the parish has been providing spiritual leadership, while the school has educated children for a century. However, the effects of aged construction from the 1960s warranted renovations, which are in the works on the parish’s overall campus.
Beginning with its kickoff in August of 2019, a three-year, $2.5 million Joint Capital Campaign has reached a goal of raising more than 70% of the goal, successfully raising $1.8 million. The campaign is still going strong, even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.
“The generosity of our parishioners and school families is overwhelming,” said Father Richard George, pastor of St. Anastasia Catholic Church. “Our campaign slogan, Together: Sharing Our Faith, Achieving Our Dreams, will have long-lasting effects reaching into the next century as we reach out to the community with our ministry.”
In order to continue serving the families and community of Ft. Pierce and the surrounding areas, Father George reached out to his parishioners and school families. Phase I began when the capital improvement committee looked at what needed to be accomplished, namely, a leaky church roof. A skylight had a design flaw and leaked for years. “It was a domino effect,” Father George said. The fix included a new roof, new air conditioning unit and a skylight that was donated.
Generous commitments of time, talent and treasure are coming from regular and seasonal parishioners, visitors, families, ministries, students, faithful benefactors (from the church and school), local contractors, tradesmen, air conditioning suppliers and business owners—many of whom are providing financial and in-kind assistance.
The Stewardship Committee, comprised of church and school volunteers, is led by Campaign Director, Jimmie Anne Haisley. They are hard at work attending meetings and checking items on the punch list. Some of the committee are proud alumni of St. Anastasia School.
“Our school develops graduates who are disciples of Christ,” Father George said, “and are healthy, well-balanced youth, reflective critical thinkers and responsible citizens.”
The campaign was flexible before COVID-19, but events like neighborhood receptions, dinners, lunches and large gatherings came to a halt due to the effects and uncertainty that COVID-19 created, although funding goals continue to be met. Father George was excited as he explained how the pledges never stopped. “Donors made good on their promises,” he said. “We could have pulled the plug and stopped the work, but the time was right and there was less public access to the church building so that construction could begin.”
The inaugural Building on Faith Gala was held pre-pandemic in February at the Riverwalk Center in historic downtown Fort Pierce. It was a successful occasion and plans are in motion for the second annual event in February 2021, with a “Proud as a Peacock” theme reflecting the unofficial mascot of the town.
During the beginning of the pandemic, the Stewardship Committee moved forward on the church foyer renovation. Underground plumbing from the 1960s and cast-iron pipes from 100 years ago were failing. Once initial school repairs were completed during Phase II last year (adding hurricane windows, repairing bathrooms and parking lot upgrades), an abandoned sewer line was repaired for the much-needed church facilities.
During this time, all Masses were moved to the parish center as Phase III of construction commenced in the church. The project includes updated bathrooms, a handicap ramp at the entrance and new stair railing. The liturgical enhancements include a narthex with a more welcoming space, a foyer area with new flooring and a permanent baptismal font. Added features include a redesign of support pillars. Artwork on the ceiling of the Narthex will be the final touch. Work that began in July is scheduled for completion by December
Longevity is unique to St. Anastasia Church and School. With San Juan Diego Hispanic Pastoral Center adjacent to the church, many are giving freely of their time in tangible and non-tangible examples of prayer, hope, and faith.
“There are so many branches connected to our unique campus,” Father George said. “Hope is a virtue we all need – despite COVID-19. Humanity shines the brightest under pressure. Our donors have not wavered, and their generosity has only increased. I am humbled and blessed to serve this faith-filled community.”
To learn more about St. Anastasia Church, visit stanastasiachurch.org or call 772-461-2233. To read the latest news about the school, visit saintanastasiaschool.org or call 772-461-2232. Follow the school on Facebook @StAnastasiaSchool.
By Debra Magrann, Florida Catholic Correspondent