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Manorville church renovated, expanded by all-volunteer effort

Volunteer Ronnie Gibbs works on the renovation of

Volunteer Ronnie Gibbs works on the renovation of Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church in Manorville on Oct. 24, 2017. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

A Manorville church congregation rededicates its sanctuary Sunday after a $900,000 effort to rebuild the sacred space that once had been a chicken coop.

Parishioners at Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church spent countless hours during the past year donating their time to reconstruct and expand the church on Wading River Road. The church has a new kitchen and food pantry, and the sanctuary features a new baptismal font.

With a relatively small membership of about 650 parishioners, the church used volunteer labor and donated material to add 900 square feet of space to the sanctuary, and a new 2,500-square-foot community center, where Sunday school classes will be held. Parishioners raised the money needed to buy materials and pay for professional contractors.

“The community has been waiting for a proper meeting space for a long time,” said the Rev. Jose Jacob, the parish’s pastor for the past three years. “We had to do something within our means.”

Bishop John Barres, leader of the Rockville Centre diocese, will celebrate the 11 a.m. Mass on Sunday and rededicate the sanctuary.

Church members said the original sanctuary consisted of a pair of buildings that had been a chicken coop before becoming a chapel at St. James Church in Seaford. The chapel was moved to Manorville when Saints Peter and Paul opened in 1995.

The old sanctuary had a low ceiling and posts that made services seem claustrophobic, parishioners said. The ceiling was raised and posts removed as part of the renovation.

Parishioners said taking part in the work helped them feel more a part of the church. About 130 volunteers participated in a landscaping project one recent day.

“Most of what you see here is the efforts of the parishioners themselves,” said congregant Art Trivelli, a Newsday transportation employee. “You get to do it with your own hands.”

Seats were taken out of the sanctuary and moved to the community center, where services have been held during the renovation. On Tuesday, volunteers installed 28 rows of oak pews donated by St. Anthony of Padua Church in Rocky Point, which had removed the seats as part of its own renovation.

The new sanctuary seats 300 people, and can be expanded to 500 seats for Christmas and Easter services, Jacob said.

“Community coming together really builds the community,” Jacob said as volunteers assembled the new pews. “All these guys are sharing their stories. . . . At the end, people ask, ‘When can we do this again?’ ”

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