Bishop Frank J. Dewane leads the ribbon-cutting ceremony and blessing of the new Zazarino Center at Bishop Nevins Academy for St. Martha and St. Mary Academy Catholic schools in Sarasota Sept. 12. (BOB REDDY | FC)

School arts and athletic facility blessed

SARASOTA  |  Bishop Frank J. Dewane was joined by honored guests for a Mass, blessing and ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 12 for the new Zazarino Center for Athletics and Arts that will serve as a multiuse facility for St. Martha and St. Mary Academy Catholic schools in Sarasota.

The Zazarino Center is approximately 26,000 square feet and is a multifaceted enrichment facility built to meet the ongoing demand for a gymnasium with bleachers;  basketball and volleyball courts; four additional classrooms; locker rooms; a concession area; performance and event hall; stage and backstage area; community room; music room; physical education office; and much-needed additional storage space. A 15-foot Celtic cross stands outside the front doors and a memorial garden sits between the new center and the original facility.

“This is a special day,” said Siobhan Young, Principal at St. Martha Catholic School, during her remarks inside the new facility. “We are so proud of what we have here. We can now have a true ‘home’ game here for the St. Martha Knights!”

Prior to the center’s completion, school home games were held at other facilities off-campus. Gym classes were held in St. Ann Hall and were not large enough to handle the growing enrollment at the school. For the ceremony, the students of both schools filled the bleachers and were excited to be enjoying their spacious new multipurpose facility.

During the ceremony, Father Fausto Stampiglia, Pallottines, Pastor of St. Martha Parish, noted how the new center is the culmination of his prayers, more than 15 years in the making. “We are so blessed to be here,” he said. “It is through the grace of the Lord that generous people came forward and wanted to be a part of something so very special. Thank you! Jesus loves you.”

Recognized during the ceremony for their commitment and dedication to the project’a success were Louis Zazarino, for whom the building is named, and Ann Crowley and her late husband, Kevin, whose contributions helped to ensure the success of the project.

Bishop Dewane, who led the dedication ceremony and blessed the facility with holy water, noted that such projects are part of a collaborative effort. This effort is from benefactors who know the value of a Catholic education and the importance of state-of-the-art facilities.

To donors and benefactors, Bishop Dewane said: “Your generosity has come together to create this beautiful building for the greater good of the students who will be attending St. Martha Catholic School and St. Mary Academy for years to come. You should be applauded for your efforts. But it is the parents and the families that make today possible. They committed their children to a Catholic education, and we are grateful for your confidence in what we do.”

Bishop Dewane also challenged the students to make the most of the new Zazarino Center, as it is a gift from the heart of many to ensure they are able to have best educational possible.

The project was designed by Hall Architects, PA, under the project management of Willis A. Smith Construction Inc. The groundbreaking for the Zazarino Center for Athletics and Arts took place in October 2015.

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