CLAYMONT – After spending the last two years restoring their historic mansion, parishioners at Holy Rosary Church in Claymont weren’t going to let a little snow, wind and winter cold stop their party.
On Sunday, Oct. 30, Bishop Malooly celebrated a bilingual Mass for the English- and Spanish-speaking communities and blessed the renovated building, which now serves as Holy Rosary’s pastoral center. During his homily, the bishop called Holy Rosary a parish with a bright future and one with a rich history of serving Claymont and the surrounding communities.
The pastoral center, also known as the Grubb/Worth Mansion, houses the parish offices and meeting rooms. It once served as a convent for the Sisters of St. Joseph who taught at Holy Rosary School and was also a retreat house for many years. It had fallen into disrepair in recent years.
The parish had attempted to sell the property, but when Father John Gayton arrived as administrator two years ago, he decided to restore the mansion. A work force of mostly volunteers cleared brush and trash from the grounds; fixed or replaced floorboards on the porch; removed old carpet and furniture; sanded, finished and painted floors, walls and window frames; repaired the roof; removed asbestos (done by professionals); rewired the building; and brought in new furniture that was donated to Holy Rosary.
In his comments, Father Gayton said the restoration effort was symbolic of the rebirth of the parish and that the community was growing in number and spirit.
For the celebration Sunday, three large tents were set up on the mansion grounds. A variety of food and drinks were available, including several Hispanic dishes and lots of coffee and hot chocolate to fight the chill. Hispanic members of Holy Rosary danced, and Father Gayton thanked parishioners for their assistance.
The day also marked the parish’s celebration of its 90th anniversary. Father Gayton is in his second stint at Holy Rosary; he served as an associate pastor from August 2002 to January 2007.