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Our Opinion: Diocese puts faith into action

This article originally appeared on the Jefferson City News Tribune’s website. READ THE FULL ARTICLE ONLINE

The Jefferson City Diocese is putting its faith into action through its plans to renovate Shikles Auditorium into a food pantry and other services.

We recently reported Bishop W. Shawn McKnight, of the Diocese of Jefferson City, said Friday it will take an estimated $4 million to complete the renovation. The SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation is contributing a $200,000 seed grant.

The project is being spearheaded by the Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri, social services outreach arm of the Jefferson City Diocese. It bought the building, formerly a Jefferson City Housing Authority building that was used by Capital City Productions, a local theater group. Catholic Charities plans to use the space — a two-story building with a mezzanine floor between — to offer a food pantry, medical exam rooms, education spaces and offices.

The project could take a year to get off the ground, but McKnight said it’s something important for the community, and something that will be within walking distance for people who need the resources.

The mezzanine level will contain offices and conference space, overlooking the food pantry. The building’s entry on the second floor will house a study area. Classroom space could house health education classes from SSM providers, community-based classes — such as on home buying 101 or mental health first aid — and perhaps in the future, after-school programming for older students.

A chapel will be placed in what is currently the backstage area.

Four medical exam rooms health care providers can use are planned to be adjacent to the study area, in what’s currently a hallway.

McKnight invited people in the community to gift their time and money to help finish the project. We echo his call.

The project complements existing services from our generous community, and will continue to offer a hand up for those in need.