GREAT BARRINGTON -- A local Catholic fraternal organization has donated $50,000 toward ongoing renovations at the "life" of St. Peter's Catholic Church.

The Knights of Columbus Mount Everett Council 513 has contributed toward the cost of new flooring on the first level of St. Peter's Parish Center, according to church pastor, Rev. William Murphy. The Knights of Columbus formally presented a check to Murphy during a ceremonial dinner Sunday afternoon at the center. The Knights also honored 15 members for their 50-plus years of dedication to the council, with Dr. John Hassett cited for the most continuous service at 64 years.

Once installed by December, the floor work will be the latest in a series of upgrades that has included a new natural gas furnace, foundation repair, revamped rest rooms and improved security lighting for the nearly 50-year-old parish center.

"We've really worked hard to maintain our buildings," said Murphy. "While the church should be the focus, the center is the life of the parish community as we now have a food pantry and try to develop adult education programs."

Since opening in 1965, the parish center has hosted numerous church-related dinners, fundraisers, religious education, youth basketball and more. Located on Russell Street, the facility was built on the original site of St. Peter's Church, which moved to Main Street in 1911.

"I grew up with this [center]; my wife and I attended dances here," said Ted Furey, Grand Knight of the Mount Everett Council.

For nearly three years, St. Peter's Parish Center has been in various stages of renovation, costing tens of thousands of dollars, according to church officials. The two-story structure closed in December 2010 due to a fault oil/gas furnace that was eventually replaced with an all gas heating system. The center reopened in March, following the removal of all the asbestos floor tile.

In addition to fundraising, St. Peter's has received in-kind services toward the renovations and parish volunteers have repainted the second floor rooms and helped clean up after each project.

"People here aren't afraid to roll up their sleeves and help out," Murphy said.

Additional work at the center, such as landscaping and an improved handicap ramp, are on hold as renovation work shifts to the stone church on Main Street. Murphy says St. Peter's needs a new heating system and the exterior granite re-pointed.

Nevertheless, the local Knights want to help ensure the center stands for another 50 years, according to Mount Everett Council member, Sonny Zanetti

"It's really part of the church and community," said Zanetti. "If we don't have this, where else would we go?"

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233

Golden years ...

On Sunday, the Knights of Columbus Mount Everett Council 513 in Great Barrington honored 15 members for their 50-plus years of service with Catholic fraternal organization.

64 years: Dr. John Hassett

62 years: John Tully, Sonny Zanetti

60 years: Robert Guidi

58 years: Rev. Anthony Jutt, Walter Samul, Paul Hickey, Eugene Dellea

57 years: Joseph Rock

56 years: Allan Langdon, Donald Ward

55 years: Aldo Oggiani

53 years: Norman Roy

52 years: John Ferron