Demolition has begun on the former St. Rita’s school at Broad and Ellsworth, the site of the proposed Cascia Center, a “peacemaking” center that is now moving forward.
Cranes started tearing away at the building Monday, the day a demolition permit was issued. The demolition is for the ’50s era school, which closed around 1990 (not sure about that date). The shrine is not being touched.
Fr. Joe Genito, pastor and director of the shrine, said that he hopes groundbreaking for the center will be sometime in the spring. Fundraising took longer than expected, which is evidenced by the information on this brochure soliciting donations saying the center’s projected opening date would be 2011.
The ambitions for the building were scaled back quite a bit. An old rendering of the proposed center shows that a glass addition was to be built on the Broad Street side of the building and that the current gravel lot would be converted to a surface parking lot. Instead, it will be a one-story building built from scratch, about 6,000 square feet.
The center will be nondenominational and reach out to the community to “offer solutions for peacemaking and conflict resolution,” Genito said.
He said the center would build on the work at the shrine, which honors St. Rita of Cascia, a peacemaker who was born in what is now Umbria, Italy in 1381. “She got hotheaded Italians to stop killing each other,” Genito said. “We want to use that symbol of St. Rita the peacemaker to reach out to a very violent city.”