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Mount Carmel in Niles dedicates center

Staff photo / Bob Coupland Bishop David Bonnar of the Diocese of Youngstown leads a procession Sunday from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Niles to the new 12,500-square foot parish family center behind the church.

NILES — When Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and St. Stephen Church come together next month as a merged parish, parishioners will have a new parish family center for various events.

The new $3.3 million center, located behind Our Lady of Mount Carmel off Robbins Avenue, was officially dedicated and blessed on Sunday. After Mass with Younstown Bishop David Bonnar, the congregation walked to the center for the blessing and ribbon cutting.

“The center will be for parish activities and a place where the parish members will be able to get to know one another. The young will learn of their Catholic faith and the adults will deepen their commitment to live as Christ has taught us,” Bonnar said.

The 12,500-square foot center at 29 Erie St. has a large social and reception hall, which can seat more than 250 people at large tables with a state-of-the art kitchen and five classrooms / meeting rooms.

Rocky Mitolo, a parish member who serves on the finance committee, said the building was a long time coming.

“It is great to have the building done. It will be great to have this to bring both parishes together. The festival is coming up, and we have this new facility. We look forward to using this center and everyone coming together,” Mitolo said.

Ground was broken in summer 2019 but

the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 delayed the project.

Mitolo said previously, those preparing for the festival and other events had to go up and down steps all the time and now will have a large kitchen on the main floor to prepare food.

Deacon Michael Hanshaw said it took more than four years of hard work and dedication with the people of the parish raising the money to build the center.

“It is a beautiful facility. Everyone should be proud,” Hanshaw said.

Hanshaw said children can use the center for religious education programs.

PARISHES MERGING

The two churches will become Saint Pope John XXIII Parish July 1 as part of the diocesan reconfiguration.

Hanshaw said the project was financed through Farmers Bank and the parishioners raised $1.9 million toward the cost.

“This is a testament to the dedication and gratitude of the people here at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The parishioners should be proud of the center,” Hanshaw said.

Hanshaw said some equipment was brought over from the former school building for the kitchen. He said there are four large pizza ovens that were refurbished. The kitchen also has a walk-in freezer.

He said people have commented most about the large amount of space.

Also coming from the former school are refurbished crucifixes and a mosaic from the church, which was placed in a main hallway.

He said the center will strengthen the parish’s viability for future generations.

The Rev. Steven Agostino, pastor of Mount Carmel since 2023, said there will be two worship sites for the parish, but the parish council and finance council are merged.

“We are a united church,” Agostino said.

Bonnar said he looks forward to bringing priests to the center for events.

Staff photo / Bob Coupland
A ribbon-cutting and dedication took place Sunday for the $3.3 million, 12,500-square foot parish family center for Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Niles. Taking part in the ribbon cutting are, from left, Deacon Michael Hanshaw of Mount Carmel, Bishop David Bonnar of the Diocese of Youngstown and the Rev. Steve Agostino, pastor of Mount Carmel. A two-hour open house allowed people to see the new center.

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