By Christie L. Chicoine

CS&T Staff Writer

LIMERICK – The new $13 million education center of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish recently dedicated by Auxiliary Bishop Daniel E. Thomas is one of several parish expansion projects in Montgomery County and other suburban areas in the Archdiocese.

The 24,000-square-foot building at 256 Swamp Pike was built on 30 acres, which will eventually include a church.

“The dedication day was a powerful culmination of hard work on the behalf of many inspaniduals and parishioners,” said Father Paul C. Brandt, pastor of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish. “The atmosphere was charged. You could feel the optimism for the future in the life of this parish.”

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta was formed July 1, 2006 from the consolidation of St. Peter Parish in Pottstown and St. Clare Parish in Linfield.

“All these parishioners, having been from two small parishes, all of a sudden, the reality hits, ‘We’re a big parish,'” Father Brandt continued.

The Oct. 5 dedication of Blessed Teresa’s new center is one sign of parish growth in suburban counties across the Archdiocese:

* Last Sunday, Cardinal Justin Rigali blessed the new, $3.4 million multi-purpose center of St. Ephrem Parish in Bensalem, Bucks County. The center, which is 16,000-square-feet, features a gymnasium, a lobby with gathering space and meeting rooms. The new building connects to the church and school.

* Last month, the Cardinal also blessed the new, $2.3 million chapel and parish center of St. John Fisher in Boothwyn, Delaware County. The 9,109-square-foot-structure features a 50-seat chapel for Adoration, Benediction and daily Mass; a large meeting room with a soundproof spanider, and four smaller meeting rooms for PREP and other parish organizations.

* Also in September, Bishop Thomas blessed the $2.1 million parish center at Mother of spanine Providence Parish in King of Prussia, Montgomery County. The center, which is more than 6,000 square feet, includes ample meeting space. One entrance to the center offers a chair lift to the main school building. The school’s existing gymnasium was refurbished as part of the project. Air-conditioning was added, and the gym will no longer have to double as a lunchroom. In conjunction with the construction project, the entire electrical system in the school building was upgraded and a state-of-the-art fire and security alarm system was installed.

Blessed Teresa’s center, which has 16 classrooms, houses youngsters from the former Pottstown site’s elementary school and the Linfield site’s pre-kindergarten program, which closed this June. In addition to those youths, some students from the parish’s Linfield campus who had attended four different Catholic elementary schools in the area now report to the new education center.

The parish PREP program is also held in the center, and a comprehensive childcare program has begun at the site to accommodate youngsters who are 6 weeks old to school age.

Beginning next January, the education center will serve as a satellite campus for local colleges and universities. Next summer, the campus will host camps for school age children.

The parish elementary school currently enrolls 226 students, a 40 percent increase from last year. The parish PREP program has 526 students, a 15 percent increase from last year. There are currently 40 youngsters enrolled in the comprehensive childcare program.

The air-conditioned educational center is state-of-the-art, featuring a library, technology center, science lab, music room, art studio, stage, gymnasium and kitchen. A motorized wall spanides the gymnasium and parish hall into two, inspanidually accessible areas to accommodate the needs of parish organizations.

A health clinic, counseling center and conference rooms are housed in the administrative wing.

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta has more than 2,000 registered families.

Five weekend liturgies are now celebrated at the parish worship site in the education center. Until the new church is built, the Linfield site will continue to be used for daily Mass, the 6 p.m. Sunday Mass, as well as for weekly Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, weddings, baptisms and funerals.

“The daily vitality of the education center, with the added enthusiasm on weekend liturgies, far exceeds the expectations that even I had of bringing together this enormously energized parish community,” Father Brandt said.

The pastor also acknowledged the respect he has for his parishioners, who accepted the closing of their previous parishes and began anew with dedication and determination.

Citing the capacity with which the education center serves all ages of the parish, combined with the enormous growth potential of the parish itself, Father Brandt concluded that the future of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish is filled with “limitless possibilities.”

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or