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‘Shared space for all of us’ to be unveiled in Easton, Md.; SS. Peter and Paul prepares for dedication

SS. Peter and Paul Family Life Center is adjacent to the church. Dialog photo/Joseph P. Owens

EASTON, Md. – According to Father James Nash, the ceremony and prayer service at 11 a.m. Oct. 29, isn’t just about dedicating three major building projects on the 100-acre campus at Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Parish in Easton, it’s about celebrating “a shared space for all of us.”

That shared space includes a new high school facility and playing fields, a spacious Family Life Center, and a columbarium and cemetery at 1210 S. Washington St., Easton.

Bishop Koenig and Bishop Emeritus Malooly of the Diocese of Wilmington will bless each facility at their doorways during the service, while parish leaders and students will sprinkle holy water within the facilities.

Open to the public, the service will begin at the church. A bagpiper will lead a procession on to the Family Life Center, then to the columbarium and cemetery, and finally to the high school gymnasium. Visitors will be able to tour the new facilities.

The original project, “A Sacred Vision,” was unveiled in fall 2016. To date, donors have given more than $21 million to the high school and family life center.
Nash gives credit to the main overseers of the Sacred Vision building programs, Peggy Wilson and Brent Outten. Heading up the fundraising effort were parishioners and school board members Dr. Wayne Hockmeyer and Jim Farrell.

Jim Nemeth, principal at Ss. Peter and Paul High School, takes a break as the school prepares to open the doors to the new high school.
Dialog photo/Connie Connolly

James Nemeth, principal of the high school for 21 years, will be on hand for the ceremony.

“I think people wanted to be committed to this for a long time, but to actually pull that together, to where you take people’s desire to be committed, and then to write a check and support that – that campaign happened very quickly and … because of the tremendous work of Father Nash,” Wilson, and the school board during the pandemic, Nemeth said.

“God works in great ways and through great people,” he said.

The $1.6 million columbarium and cemetery project on the east side of the church facing U.S. Route 50 was begun in early 2021. Heading that project, which is separate from Sacred Vision, are Michael Milone and Pat Bonan.

The cemetery contains two gardens for flat and raised monuments. The columbarium is made up of a roofed pavilion and a memorial garden.

Father Nash, who was appointed to the parish in 2014, has served as pastor throughout the three projects’ planning and completion.

A native of Newark, Father Nash had supervised remodeling and building projects at two parishes in New Castle County.

Locally based Provident State Bank, Lane Engineering, the Town of Easton, and Willow Construction, as well as the Diocese of Wilmington, also made the Sacred Vision project a reality, officials said.

“The bottom line is we have in Talbot County, and elsewhere, but predominantly in Talbot County and predominantly parishioners – very generous people who saw that this was really needed,” Father Nash said.

“‘A Sacred Vision’ was really that – not just to build a building, but there was a very powerful vision (to build the school and family life center) for the glory of God. It just really was the driving force,” Father Nash said.

Aerial photo of the new campus of Ss. Peter and Paul High school in Easton, Md.
Courtesy photo

The main Easton church of the 3-church parish moved to its present campus in 2005. Its offices two miles north were moved in mid-May 2021 to the 20,000 square foot Family Life Center, adjoining the church and housing a hall that can accommodate 250 people at round tables, a 50-seat chapel, a large meeting room for 60 people and a small meeting room for 30, eight offices, a storage space, and a small family meeting room.

The high school, after 60 years on the High Street campus in Easton, opened for the fall 2021 semester. The elementary and middle schools still operate on the campus at 900 High St.

The new school building can accommodate 325 students. On former grain fields are now multiple playing fields, tennis courts and hundreds of newly planted trees and shrubs.

Students hail mainly from Talbot County, but it draws students from the five Mid-Shore counties, about 50% of whom are non-Catholics. It is the only Catholic high school on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

“It was a collective effort by the school board and by Father Nash and others, and our donors,” Hockmeyer said. “I can’t say it enough: These buildings sit here because of the generosity of the donors that so importantly stepped up to the plate and made it happen.”

“This has been an amazing journey that has been a long time coming,” Nemeth said. “This vision that so many people have had over the decade – the school board was able to take that vision, and put it into reality.”