A long-awaited facility for events and gatherings recently opened at St. Edward Catholic Church, a project that many parishioners have waited years for.

The St. Katharine Drexel Family Center stands next to St. Edward Catholic Church with a total area of 9,270 square feet. The facility seats 300 people sitting or 500 standing, and comes with a fully equipped kitchen, multi-purpose suite and conference room.

St. Edward event coordinator Claire Manuel said the facility recently received its occupancy license from the Louisiana State Fire Marshal and held a ribbon cutting ceremony that included a blessing from Bishop Douglas Deshotel.

The project has been a long time coming.

“We have gone through three pastors since this project started,” Manuel said Friday. “We never had a center, a hall, a gathering place that the church community could use.”

Whenever it was needed, Manuel said parishioners would often use the cafeteria at St. Edward Elementary School when a large space was needed. With the new facility comes a large gathering space as well as rooms for conferences that can be used by the church and school.

Church employees are still waiting for extra equipment like audio/visual technology to come in, but each room of the Family Life Center looks new and ready to use.

Church leaders plan to use several of the suites as spaces to host online meetings and possibly even use as classroom spaces as well. Part of the facility’s appeal is its ability to be multi-purpose and used for a variety of reasons, Manuel said.

Manuel, who serves as the event coordinator for the family life center, said the church is extremely proud of the facility and hopes to use it for wedding and funeral related events along with church and school functions.

“There are rooms that can be used for bridal-type suites or made into a living room for people who need a second at a funeral,” Manuel said.

The grand hall of the facility can seat 300 individuals with round tables of eight. Manuel said spacing for the hall took COVID-19 precautions into consideration.

The project was funded through donation pledges of the church, and the name of the facility is in honor of St. Catherine Drexel, who founded St. Edward School in 1908.

“We needed a space where the church could come together and have functions,” Manuel said. “That was the purpose of having a family life center here.”

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