SPRINGFIELD — PeaceHealth joined with St. Alice May 19 to celebrate the opening of a new commercial-grade kitchen that will serve the parish’s diverse congregation and build community as they prepare and share food and practice works of mercy.

The project, funded in part through a $115,000 Community Impact Grant from PeaceHealth, has been in the works for more than two years. The parish raised the additional funds required to complete the nearly $400,000 project.

“This is just the beginning of a new chapter in the history of St. Alice,” said Father Mark Bentz, pastor at St. Alice since 2016. “I am so excited to see where God will take us in the coming years.”

“Our partnership with St. Alice is close to our hearts,” said Todd Salnas, chief executive of PeaceHealth Oregon. “We share a deep, faith-based dedication to providing help and healing to those who need it most. This kitchen will promote community health and wellness and connect our health care and church communities with individuals in need of care, including those who are unhoused, economically disadvantaged and finding their way as immigrants.”

The new facility replaced St. Alice’s former “warming” kitchen, which allowed for reheating but not cooking food. With a fully equipped commercial kitchen, St. Alice will be able to accommodate both current and future growth – including expanded outreach activities and the St. Alice Education Center’s programs. The kitchen provides much needed workflow improvements, additional storage space, modern commercial-grade appliances, ventilation and fire safety systems.

St. Alice contracted with Michael Soraci, AIA, owner of Agate Architecture LLC, for pre-design and schematic design phases. He worked with a focus group of parishioners who frequently use the kitchen, and Essex Construction completed the project.

“As we cook and eat together, share food, faith, and culture together, we will realize why our Lord chose to become our food in the Eucharist,” said Father Bentz. “Food unites us as family. The communion we share in the Mass needs to spill out here to the kitchen and parish hall, and then from the hall into the community and the world. That’s what our mission states: ‘Seek Jesus, build relationships, and share the joy of the Gospel.’”