The building remained closed until 1999 when the decision was made to renovate the building into a parish center. Money from Forward in Faith, a diocesan-wide capital campaign, came back to the parish for the work.
In 2001, the parish decided to lease the building to the town of Uxbridge which used it as The Early Learning Center. Uxbridge was to use the building until June 2012 for kindergarten and preschool. By June, the town no longer needed the building since it had built a new high school, and reconfigured its school buildings.
“We decided to realize the dream of making the building a parish center,” Father Esposito said. “Many parishioners put time and effort into cosmetic work on the building.”
The basement level is for the youth activities center. On the first floor is the parish senior citizens’ activities center which is open whenever they wish to use it. There are four rooms on the first floor, and four on the second floor. The rooms are used for religious education and other types of meetings.
Father Esposito was excited about getting the building back into use for the Year of Faith. Pope Benedict XVI called for a “new evangelization” and declared a Year of Faith from October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013.
“We are able to expand our ministries and opportunities for education and evangelization,” Father Esposito said.
He described the Monday evening schedule as a youth ministry night which combines games, activities and religious education. At 5:30, students in grades 5 and up can use the youth center and game room. The teens are involved in all sorts of activities. Religious education classes are from 6:15-7:30. From 7:30-8:30 they can go back downstairs and use the center again.
“It’s all part of youth ministry. We are hoping to open another night, and do an opening for the younger children and their parents,” Father Esposito said. “About 75 kids are using the youth center.”
Jean B. Peterson is the director of youth ministry and runs all the youth programming in the parish which includes social activities, fundraising, and service projects. She reiterated that the youth center is open every Monday night for teens to socialize, play games and do arts and crafts activities. Ages 10 and up are welcome.
“We will start opening once a month on a Sunday for grades 1-4,” she explained.
Ms. Peterson has been doing youth ministry at Good Shepherd for a year and a half, but has been doing it for more than 20 years elsewhere. When told she sounded very energetic, she laughed and said, “You have to be!”
She has taken the youngsters on retreats and every spring they have a “Cardboard City” and raise money for the homeless in the area.
While Ms. Peterson takes care of the youth ministry, Carol A. Zabinski is the coordinator of religious education, and director of music. She has been coordinator since 2008. She noted that some of the older students, in grades 11 and 12, are catechists teaching religious education to the younger students.
“The young ones love the teen students. They look up to them,” Ms. Zabinski said.
Preschool, kindergarten and grades 1 through 4 have religious education Sunday morning in the parish center.
“We love this parish center!” Ms. Zabinski said. “This parish center has been a godsend. We have approximately 225 students from preschool through grade 10. Students in grades 11 and 12 are considered full members of the church.”
Father Esposito concluded by saying all the rooms but two in the parish center are named for saints. The two rooms not named for saints are Jesus the Good Shepherd and Our Lady of Fatima.