At left and below, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, with the assistance of Father Stanley Dombrowski, OSFS, Pastor of St. Cecilia Parish in Fort Myers, blesses the new Marian Hall May 12 in Fort Myers. Above is the exterior of the hall. (PHOTOS BY BOB REDDY | FC)

New Parish Hall dedicated and blessed in Fort Myers

Fort Myers  |  The new Marian Hall at St. Cecilia Parish in Fort Myers was dedicated and blessed by Bishop Frank J. Dewane May 12.

The building is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and in honor of two key donors, Mary Eller and Mary Verde of whom there are portraits in the lobby flanking a Marian statue.

Bishop Dewane described the 12,000-square-foot Marian Hall event center as a place where all will come to know the presence of Christ, to experience friendship and joy, and to grow in Christ’s love. The hall was dedicated to the honor and glory of God.

Following a Mass, the faithful processed across the parking lot to the new hall, led by the choir and bell ringers, where an opening ceremony in the Celebration Courtyard took place, which included a flag-raising ceremony led by the Boy Scouts of the parish.

In the hall, Bishop Dewane first blessed the lobby and then the whole building with holy water while escorted by St. Cecilia Pastor, Father Stanley Dombrowski, Oblate of St. Francis de Sales.

“Hail Mary. This is your home,” Father Dombrowski said. “We did it.”

Father Dombrowski credited the help of many different people who helped to make the hall go from a dream to a reality stressing the support received by the Diocesan building commission’s Jane Gaia and Bo Nepip.

While Father Dombrowski thanked everyone else for their hard work, but Bishop Dewane spoke on behalf of everyone in the parish when he publicly thanked Father Dombrowski for what he did to make Marian Hall a reality. In response, the 500 or so gathered in the hall gave their pastor a standing ovation.

The response to the blessing and dedication was one of extraordinary excitement as many believe the hall represents a promising future for the parish community.

“It’s so beautiful and bright,” said Marie Jackson. “It is exactly what was needed for our parish. St. Cecilia’s is a wonderful community and this hall really shows off our best side, being welcoming to everyone.”

Marian Hall was designed by Architect Joyce Owens and constructed by Owen Ames Kimball Co. and is positioned next-door to the existing parish sanctuary, deliberately visible and accessible from the nearby cross streets. The hall incorporates a modern style with complimentary large overhangs, a distinct entry, and outdoor gathering areas.

The large expanses of glass provide transparency and lightness that allow outside onlookers to observe the activity inside and intentionally welcomes the community inward. The porte-cochere and tall wooden entry doors open upon a generous vestibule where parishioners and guests are greeted with high ceilings, lia wall of stained glass tailored specifically to the space, a hand-blown glass chandelier, and an artist-designed donor appreciation sculpture installation.

The main event hall captures the openness of an outdoor pavilion, the large windows all-around and clerestory windows above keep the space filled with daylight while articulating the important connection to the sky, lush green landscaping and outdoor amenities. Side doors open onto a large covered outdoor area and Celebration Courtyard, complete with personalized pavers and specially designed benches that provide attendants with outdoor gathering opportunities. The hall was designed to accommodate 350 people.  

Additionally, deployable partition walls can transform the event hall for smaller gatherings and potentially simultaneous events, along with a fully accommodated professional kitchen, elevated stage, projection screen and sound systems help make Marian Hall an ideal space for the parish to host events, large and small, for years to come