Members of St. Canera Catholic Church in Neosho gathered Wednesday evening to break ground for and bless the site of a new parish hall.

Members of St. Canera Catholic Church in Neosho gathered Wednesday evening to break ground for and bless the site of a new parish hall.

The hall has been a long time coming, according to Father Hank Grodecki.

"They've been wanting to do something for about the last 20 years," Grodecki said. "We finally had a building campaign last fall and that's been successful enough that we're able to start the building now with the pledges we've received already."

The church, located at the corner of Hill and Wood streets, is made up of about 340 families.

Many of the church members gathered Wednesday evening, immediately following the 7 p.m. mass, to attend the blessing and groundbreaking.

Bishop James V. Johnston, of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, presided over the blessing.

"It will serve as a parish center, so it will be a parish hall, kitchen, restrooms, classrooms for Sunday school and a courtyard," Grodecki said.

Rick Holden, a member of the church's building committee and co-chair of the fundraising campaign, said Wednesday was an exciting day for the St. Canera parishioners.

"It brings the whole parish together for a purpose and we see that in our future of our younger kids and parishioners that are coming in," Holden said. "It gives us a newer facility and it brings a lot of things that are currently scattered around the property up here into one entity."

The parish hall will be constructed by Construction Services Group, of Neosho, with design performed by Butler, Rosenbury and Partners architectural firm, of Springfield.

Groundbreaking was performed by Grodecki, Johnston, Holden, designer Daniel Hancock, Carter Marion of CSG, and Belen Mejia, who represented the children of the church.

Holden said while the new parish hall had been a goal of the congregation for years, the project became serious last fall, when the fundraising campaign began.

"We had to raise half of it before we could break ground," Holden said. "The quote for the fundraising was about $680,000."

Holden said the addition will go on the south side of the church, and will measure approximately 4,700-square-feet.

He said the exterior of the building will be a siding that compliments the marble on the front of the church.

Holden said the new facility will offer more space and will be easier for some church members to access.

"We have a facility downstairs in the basement, and as the parishioners age and our projects move forward, we were needing better facilities," Holden said. "We wanted a bigger, multi-purpose area for gathering. We wanted a better entrance into the church itself. Also, we wanted to bring everything to ground level to aid our elderly parishioners."

The new parish hall is expected to be complete in about seven months.