Queen of Peace Parish children proceed enthusiastically with groundbreaking at a March 3 parish celebration honoring the beginning of a parish expansion. (Rick Keating/Catholic Sentinel)
Queen of Peace Parish children proceed enthusiastically with groundbreaking at a March 3 parish celebration honoring the beginning of a parish expansion. (Rick Keating/Catholic Sentinel)
SALEM — A little more than 20 years after the completion of Queen of Peace Church here, the parish community came together to raise funds for phase two of the construction project. Parishioners gathered after Mass March 3 to break ground.

The project, known as “Fulfilling the Dream,” will include an expansion of the parish’s meeting spaces, offices and kitchen.

“People are excited about it,” said Father Tim Mockaitis, pastor at the parish, pointing to what will be a larger social area for events like weddings, funerals and the school auction.

The construction’s outcome will “bring people together,” said Father Mockaitis.

Michelle Unger, a member of the parish and the parish staff, expects the expansion effort to have an impact on the community.

“The kitchen is like the hub of our parish life — aside from the Eucharist,” says Unger. The parish uses the kitchen and social spaces heavily and will appreciate having more space for overflow and more time to spend in fellowship.

During the March 3 groundbreaking, Father Mockaitis explained the importance of the project.

“From the very beginning this has been a continuance of the mission of Christ, an inspiration for continued growth,” said the pastor, who was presented with a hardhat by the fundraising campaign committee.

The shovel used to build the first Queen of Peace Church back in 1963 was used to break ground for a third time — the first for the original church, the second for the new church in 1997 and now for the ‘Fulfilling the Dream’ project groundbreaking.

The $3.4 million project is expected to be completed before Christmas.