By SHEILA OJENDYK
GREENVILLE St. Mary recently celebrated the opening of the Rev. Msgr. Charles J. Baum Parish Recreation Center on two consecutive Sundays. The first Sunday, March 21, was the formal dedication of the new facility, and the second Sunday, March 28, was the grand opening.
Bishop David B. Thompson celebrated the 11 a.m. Mass on March 21 and welcomed parishioners to the “Bauming of St. Mary’s.” After Mass, parishioners gathered at the front doors of the new recreation center where Msgr. Baum cut the ribbon. Bishop Thompson blessed the new building from its main entry doors to the four corners of the gymnasium. Speeches were made against the quiet background of a string quartet, after which Bishop Thompson instructed the crowd to “Play ball!”
The grand opening on March 28 was geared to families. People gathered outside the gym for pizza and sodas while waiting for the second ribbon cutting. Msgr. Baum cut the purple ribbon a second time, and the gym was officially opened to the waiting crowd. Children poured in excitedly.
Geoff Hart, sports reporter for Greenville’s WYFF Channel 4 news, was master of ceremonies at the grand opening, and Mickey Farmer, youth minister at St. Mary, coordinated the event.
Msgr. Baum, parish pastor from 1953 to 1973, sank the first basket to the booming drums of “Thus Spake Zarathrusta” (the “2001” theme). Tickets had been sold earlier that afternoon for the chance to make the first shots at the five other baskets. One lucky young man had three separate winning tickets.
Enthusiasm ran high. Middle-school girls with their uniform skirts pinned up cheered every time somebody shot for a basket. Msgr. Baum, pastor emeritus for the past 24 years, said, “It was a great honor” having the recreation center named after him. Farmer expressed his enthusiasm for the new facility, saying, “Everything’s going to take place in this gym.”
Bill Misiaveg, chairman of the building committee, reported that the recreation center had been two years in the planning.
It is part of a master plan that includes acquisition of surrounding property, expansion of the parking lot and addition of a grass play field for St. Mary School.