Father Bob Barricks praised parishioners for their leadership and generosity in the building of Fellowship Hall. “How are you?” he asked. “Blessed!” the crowd of 200 immediately responded.
Father Bob Barricks praised parishioners for their leadership and generosity in the building of Fellowship Hall. “How are you?” he asked. “Blessed!” the crowd of 200 immediately responded.

Scott Tracy, a member of the men’s group at Southeast Portland’s Sacred Heart Parish, manned the door at the inaugural spaghetti dinner at the parish’s new Fellowship Hall last month.

He was just one of half a dozen volunteers welcoming all comers. Tracy was in charge of giving adult attendees the option of taking home a bottle of either the amber or citrus ale that the men’s group had brewed to raise funds.

As Father Patrick McNamee entered the new hall, a man’s voice called out to him. “Hey Central Catholic class of ’62!”

“George Pasadore,” the retired priest replied, beaming as he recognized his old classmate.

The hall’s dedication was that kind of event, old friends clapping one another on the back and kids skipping outside to play.

Parishioners at the dinner used the word “fellowship” time and again to describe their community. In fact, they voted “Fellowship Hall” to be the name of their new hall.

Bryan Schmunk, who was baptized into the church at the Easter Vigil this spring, sported a red apron along with other volunteers waiting tables. “It immediately felt like home,” Schmunk said about discovering Sacred Heart.

Father McNamee was reuniting with his high school acquaintance because he’s on the archdiocesan building committee that consulted and approved the building project and because he sometimes fills in when Father Bob Barricks, Sacred Heart’s pastor, is away.

Father Barricks led meetings where parishioners discussed what they wanted from their new hall. What was originally planned as a 5,000-square-foot building became a 7,800-square-foot “classically inspired design … intended to integrate with the existing church buildings on the site,” in the words of the architect, Scot Sutton of SG Architecture.

Lisa Rivelli, administrative assistant at the parish, attended the dinner with her family. Rivelli’s parents both attended the parish’s grade school, as did her maternal grandparents.

“I was one of the parishioners who was baptized in that baptismal font,” said Rivelli, referring to the vintage baptismal font, now displayed as sacred art and history above the entrance to the new hall.

The Sacred Heart community saw their former school and former parish hall torn down in 2005, replaced by Sacred Heart Villa, a senior community. Parishioners then used the rectory’s awkward, low-ceilinged basement as a hall. About 60 people could fit into that interim space.

When Rivelli’s mother, Jill Raschio, died in 2013, Rivelli asked Father Barricks if, in lieu of flowers, the family could request that people give to a fund for a new hall. Other families did the same. “We had great support from the school’s alumni,” said Rivelli.

In 2014, Sacred Heart parishioners launched the official effort to raise funds for a new hall, which ended up costing about $2.3 million.

Father Barricks spoke to the crowd at the celebratory dinner, beginning with a question that everyone knew the answer to.

“How are you?” he asked.

“Blessed!” the people shouted in reply.

Father Barricks thanked the parishioners for their generosity and specific parishioners for their leadership, including Joan Godfrey, who led the kitchen crew.

Later, in the kitchen, Godfrey confided that she hadn’t known what she was getting into when she volunteered to lead the cooking.

“I thought it would be a buffet for about 100, not a plated dinner for 250,” she said. She persevered, keeping at it even after learning the parish didn’t have the necessary pots and pans. At a restaurant supply store, she was shocked by the prices.

Tommy Owens of Tommy O’s restaurants was another shopper that day. He Vancouver eatery is one of Godfrey’s favorites. She told him about the spaghetti dinner and he gave her advice on what she needed, taking in her crestfallen expression.

“Here comes the miracle of the dinner,” said Godfrey. “Tommy O loaned us all the pans we needed. All the equipment to make it happen.”

At a point close to the dinner’s end, Godfrey and the kitchen crew had served up 250 dinners to parishioners and supporters who sat at 31 round tables, eight to a table.

“What an improvement, and what generosity from a lot of people,” said Father Don Gutmann, pastor of St. Clare Parish in Southwest Portland and another member of the building commission who attended the dinner.

There are still a few odds and ends to complete: blinds, for instance, for the west-facing windows, and also some cookware, since Godfrey has returned Tommy O’s pots and pans.

kristenh@catholicsentinel.org