SEAFORD — It’s been a long time coming.
Our Lady of Lourdes Church is about to get a new pastoral center, which will dramatically change the face of the Seaford landmark.
The old rectory has been torn down and construction will begin soon on a new place to house offices, a reception area, meeting areas, a small chapel and a possible classroom.
“We’re cramped (now), but it will be worth it,” said the parish’s new pastor, Father Steven Giuliano. “Doing this just seemed to make sense because it will allow us to continue to grow … We will have enough room to grow our ministries.”
The new building will be connected to the church near the site of the old rectory. It will have both elevator and stairs access, making the campus far more accessible for parish members.
It’s a thriving parish in a town once known as a company town, namely the home of Dupont. For decades, Dupont dominated much of the area with its manufacturing of nylon, kevlar and other products.
Those days have faded, but the parish can boast that it has about 1,000 families, including a bustling Hispanic community, and it continues to grow. “It’s a sign of hope. We’re changing the face of our campus and everything within it,” said Father Giuliano.
“This is probably one of the most active parishes I’ve known,” said project manager and parishioner Larry Woolbert. “They got excited when they saw the old building (rectory) go down.”
Ground will be broken on July 28 and the parish hopes to have the new center completed next March. Mass schedule for the church will not be impacted by construction.
A capital campaign called “Taking our Past into the Future — Continuing the Journey” is under way for the construction. It will continue, but it has already raised more than $500,000 of the $600,000 needed, according to the pastor.
Father Giuliano is new to the parish, having arrived last month, and officials wanted to note that this project has been in the works for some time and that other priests have also played a prominent role in bringing it to fruition. “(Redemptorist Father) Clement Vadakkedath came to Our Lady of Lourdes (in 2015),” according to a March 2019 article in the Seaford Morning Star by Annette Silva. “He surveyed the rectory and offices soon after his arrival, sifted through piles of old records and discovered that the old rectory and office complex sadly needed replacement. He decided the project was going to begin while he was in Seaford. ‘No more putting it off,’ he said.”
“For too many years, the rectory, built in 1948, has been deteriorating,” Silva wrote in 2017. “The electrical wiring is condemned, the moldy, stale air unhealthy and sadly insufficient space. Because of this, our priests have been living off campus. This fact alone has not been good for either the priests or our community.”
Officials also mentioned the role played by Father Paul Kuzhimannil in the project’s history. His religious order, the Redemptorist Priests, citing dwindling numbers and increasing responsibilities, left the parish last month after 50 years.
The architect is George, Miles and Buhr LLC and the general contractor is Gillis Gilkerson.