Washington Auxiliary Bishop Roy Campbell Jr. joined St. Aloysius pastor Father David Beaubien and about 300 parishioners March 24 in blessing and dedicating a new hall and common space at the Leonardtown parish.

The 4,200-square-foot building is attached to the church and will be used as a parish hall. Itincludes a chapel dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a music room, conference room, youth gathering lounge and a small kitchen.

Prior to the construction of the new hall, the parish relied on neighboring Father Andrew White, S.J. School when extra space was needed.

“There was a need for this,” Father Beaubien said. He noted that “this has been in the planning for more than 10 years, and parishioners made it possible in the most fundamental way.”

The pastor said that a capital campaign was started in 2010 by then-pastor Father John Dakes as part of the celebration of the parish’s 300th anniversary, but discussion about the need for a hall predated that by several years. He said that parishioners’ generous support in financing the building “is an expression of their thanksgiving and gratitude for the 300 years St. Aloysius has been here.”

Groundbreaking on the building was last February. The project cost $2.3 million.

Theresa Dent, a longtime member of the parish served as chair of the building committee from the beginning of the project. She said that she originally proposed the idea of constructing a new hall in 2007.

“I broached the idea with (then-pastor) Father (Rory) Conley, but he left soon after and then Father Dakes came and I had a similar conversation with him,” Dent said.

“We formed a committee, did a feasibility and concept study, did our due diligence and got the blessing from the archdiocese. Then we started the capital campaign, put out bids and broke ground.”

The parish committee was comprised of local business leaders and building industry professionals who helped guide the project. The capital campaign team put together by Father Dakes helped raise the funds for the construction.

While she worked on the project for more than 10 years, Dent said she was “always optimistic – I just followed the lead and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”

Dent said she was also grateful to St. Aloysius parishioners who helped make the project a reality.

“We asked the parish what they wanted to see happening in the building, and we wanted this building to be sustainable by the parish,” she added. “We wanted this to be a practical and sustainable building with responsible construction.”

She also praised the generosity of so many St. Aloysius parishioners who made the building a reality.

“It was a wonderful experience to the see the generosity and the spiritual and monetary support shown by the parishioners and how they got behind this (project),” Dent said. “It was amazing how many people contributed.”

Bishop Campbell, in blessing the structure, told parishioners that “after much work and planning by so many, you have a beautiful building” and prayed that it would be “a place where we come to know Jesus and one another better.”