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Thursday marked the beginning of a new era for parishioners and the community surrounding St. Dominic’s Church on Youngstown’s South Side.
A ribbon cutting and blessing was held as the church celebrated the opening of a new parish center.
Youngstown Bishop George Murry celebrated mass at the church before he blessed the doors and cut the ribbon on the new building at 77 Lucius Ave.
Ground was broken on the $1.3 million, 8,000-square foot parish center in April 2012. The construction was part of “Operation Redemption,” a project led by Father Greg Maturi to take back the neighborhood surrounding St. Dominic’s Church after tragedy struck two parishioners and crime seemed to riddle the community around the church.
In 2010, Angeline Fimongnari, 80, was shot as she sat inside her car in the parking lot after leaving church. Later that same year, Thomas Repchic, 75, was shot while driving away from church in his car. Repchic’s murder was a case of mistaken identity. Repchic’s wife was also hit in the gunfire and ultimately lost her foot.
Father Maturi spent the next few years rallying the neighborhood, law enforcement and state and local leaders to reclaim safety in the neighborhood, vowing not to close his church or move but to heal the community and make St. Dominic’s a safe haven for parishioners and the surrounding neighborhood.
In the months ahead, Operation Redemption would tear down 40 blighted homes, welcome a charter school and increase law enforcement. Maturi said that it wasn’t enough to take away the bad; they wanted to add the good with the new parish center.
“It’s the answer to our prayers,” said Maturi. “This is a miracle.”
“The neighborhood seems so much safer,” said Robin Hours of Youngstown. “I think people are walking around here. I feel safer.”