Pastor: New annex in Rich Fountain is response to urgent needs


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Sacred Heart Parish’s new St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Annex in Rich Fountain is a testament to hard work and fervent prayer.

The building on the Sacred Heart Parish property will provide much-needed classrooms for Sacred Heart School, abundant work space for the parish quilters, and a kitchen for cooking large quantities of food for parish events.

Father William Debo, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish and of Holy Family Parish in Freeburg, blessed and dedicated the school portion of the building during an outdoor, all-school Mass on May 14, the last day of the current academic year.

He dedicated the rest of the building after Sunday Mass on May 19, the Solemnity of Pentecost, followed by a reception and tours.

“We now have a beautiful fry kitchen for our picnics and a huge basement for storage, which we’ve been lacking,” said Fr. Debo.

The new building includes a framed image of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a 17th-century French saint to whom Jesus spoke in apparitions, resulting in widespread popular devotion to Jesus’s Sacred Heart throughout the world.

The priest noted that space has been tight at the school since a preschool division was opened in August 2021.

“We’ve just outgrown the space we had, primarily because of the preschool,” said Fr. Debo. “We’ve had kids in the convent basement for classes, we have a permanent classroom in part of the cafeteria.”

The annex also replaces two temporary portable classrooms that had reached the end of their usefulness.  

“We decided to bite the bullet and say, ‘This is no longer a want, it’s a need,’” said Fr. Debo.

Parishioners selected the site and raised the money to build. 

“It’s mostly paid for already, except for some pledges that are outstanding, and we’re confident that those will be honored,” the pastor stated.

Several grants also helped cover the project’s cost.

Finishing touches are expected to be completed this summer, in time for the parish’s annual picnic and the upcoming school year.

“The quilters are going to feel like they’re moving into the Taj Mahal!” Fr. Debo stated. “Their new space is much larger than what they’re used to.”

The new quilting room was specifically designed for its purpose, including closets designed for holding large bolts of cloth.

The annual auction of the quilters’ handiwork is one of the most popular and profitable aspects of the parish’s annual picnic, he noted.

Fr. Debo was who suggested naming the building in honor of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, after noticing the beautiful stained-glass depiction of her in Sacred Heart Church.

The project had reached some significant roadblocks last spring when Fr. Debo went on a pilgrimage to France with Bishop W. Shawn McKnight and fellow priests.

There, Fr. Debo visited the chapel where the saint’s earthly remains await the Resurrection on the Last Day.

“I offered up a lot of prayers there, lit some candles and asked her to help us,” he recalled.

By the time he got home, Fr. Debo could already see the difference the saint’s intercession and God’s intervention were making.

“The ball started rolling fast,” he said.

A determined group of parishioners of all ages bought into the project, promoted it and helped shepherd the construction to completion.

“They worked very hard,” their pastor stated. “Some local talents were also put into it.”

Now, with grateful hearts to match Jesus’s heart burning with love, Fr. Debo looks forward to seeing parishioners of all ages put the building to use and eventually wear it out.

“What a wonderful thing it would be if those who come after us have to build something even bigger,” he said.