MIDLAND If the teenagers of St. Ann’s Catholic Church ever had any doubts about how much esteem their elders held them in, they should have none now that the 1906 W. Texas Ave. church’s new $8-million youth activity center has opened across the street.
They began using it on Christmas Eve and Bishop Michael Sis of San Angelo dedicated it on Feb. 6, calling it “a concrete expression of the high priority of the formation of youth for the Catholic Church in West Texas.”
On a March 15 walking tour of the beautiful two-story, 21,000-square-foot building, Monsignor Larry Droll said most of the money was raised from donations in the parish, where about $1 million is still owed.
The teens have couches and other places to gather along with a ping pong table, a pool table, a gymnasium and basketball court, air hockey and foosball tables, a kitchen and classrooms and a 150-yard walking track on the second floor that adults also use.
“One of the things that young people like to do is visit with one another and we have beautiful furniture for them to lounge on or work on home work assignments on,” said Monsignor Droll, who works with the church’s youth minister, the Rev. Francisco Tejada, and parochial vicar, the Rev. Timothy Hayter. “High school students meet here on Sunday evenings while the Life Teen Leadership group is here on Thursday evenings and Boy Scout Troop 84 on Mondays.
“We have charging stations for cell phones. Of course, they live on their phones.”
Droll, the church’s senior pastor, said about half of the parish’s 500 teenagers are regularly using the center, which was designed by architect Kreg Robertson of Parkhill Inc. The general contractor was Teinert Construction of Lubbock.
“The gym underlines that word ‘activity,” he said, adding that he plans eventually to use the gym for a basketball league involving other churches.
Bishop Sis said the center “will make a lasting impact on the faith life of our people for generations to come.
“One of our top priorities is outreach to young people and the people of St. Ann’s have made tremendous sacrifices, even during the time of a pandemic, to provide an excellent facility for youth ministry,” he said.
When he dedicated the building, Sis said, he told the teenagers that it “will be a place where you learn our Catholic faith, practice the virtues, grow in character, establish friendships centered in Christ and become saints.
“This will be your home base for your efforts of evangelization of your generation,” he said. “Now that this building is here for you, what do I ask of you? When you are here, treat people as Jesus would treat them. This includes other young people, adults, volunteers, visitors and the maintenance staff.
“Take care of this building. Always leave it in better condition than you found it in. Keep an eye out for the safety of one another while you are here. Don’t use this building as an enclave for cliques. Rather, use it as a garden for you to grow in the virtues, blossom in holiness and bear good fruit for the Kingdom of God.
“When you see another young person who seems to be left out or ignored, reach out to that person with Christian agape love,” Sis said. “Many of you have cell phones. When you are here, look up from your cell phone and notice the people around you. Enter into real conversations. Listen to one another. Let your light shine.
“Your fellow Catholics built this center out of their love for Christ and for the church that he founded. Be close to Christ and serve as active leaders in the church your whole life long. We want you to go to Heaven. No matter where you are, live in such a way that you will get there.”