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Siesta Key Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021 10 months ago

Siesta parish primed for rebuild

St. Michael the Archangel is holding a capital campaign to rebuild after severe water damage.
by: Brynn Mechem Staff Writer

Sometimes greatness can grow from disaster, and that’s exactly what members of St. Michael the Archangel are hoping.

The 60-year-old parish center in 2018 was flooded and severely damaged during Vacation Bible School. The flooding led to damage that would have been too costly to fix, so the entire structure — Siesta Key’s only Catholic Church — was demolished in April 2019.

The Rev. Michael Cannon said the demolition was a “catastrophic moment” in the life of the parish because it shut down a majority of parish activities except for liturgical services.

“All of that ended after we had to demolish,” Cannon said. “We were greatly crippled by losing our parish center.”

However, island neighbor St. Boniface Episcopal Church allowed the parish to use its facilities for many of its other outside services, such as the Women’s Guild and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

Now the church is hoping to rebuild with the help of a capital campaign. In an email to parishioners, Cannon said that if the community didn’t gather regularly, he predicted St. Michael would no longer exist as a functioning parish in 10 years.

The capital campaign, named “Reignite the Flame, Relight the Way,” has a goal of $5 million to support the total construction costs of a new ministry center.

Parishioners Patty Smith and Maurice Dinneen on behalf of the Eluned & Edward Russell Charitable Foundation at the Community Foundation of Sarasota made a donation of $500,000 to kick-start the campaign.

Smith, who was married at St. Michael in 1985, said she hopes the money can help the church be fully functional once more.

“I love my parish and want it to be whole again,” Smith said. “I want to have a new center to bring people back together, and my dad and I hope this gift inspires others who are just as passionate about our church and church family.”

The new center will include gathering space for various groups as well as a fully equipped kitchen. Cannon said the new center will be larger and more conducive to the current barrier island community.

“When the parish was built more than 50 years ago, it was purpose-built for the community at that time,” Cannon said. “Our community now is quite different, so we’re building a structure that will hopefully answer the needs of a changed community.”

The new center will be open to all on the Key, not just Roman Catholics. Doors will be open to organizations and individuals who wish to use the facilities.

So far, the campaign has received about $2.5 million in donations with an additional $1 million pledged. 

Construction will begin upon collection of 80% of the total funds necessary.

Groundbreaking is expected on the project no later than 2022.

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