Saint Andre Bessette Catholic Church, a parish of the United States Province of Priests and Brothers, reopened its hospitality and food pantry programs just in time for Thanksgiving. The temporary monthlong shutdown was needed to complete a $2.1 million renovation project.
Saint Andre Bessette provides morning and evening hospitality programs, including food, coffee, basic services and fellowship to the most needy in the downtown Portland, Ore., area. It also offers a foot-care program on Wednesday mornings for soaking, massage and basic care from a volunteer nurse. An art program is offered four mornings a week to allow people to express themselves creatively through different media. A food pantry provides a monthly bag of groceries to households and individuals living within the parish boundaries who have qualifying incomes.
The renovation focused on the basement, first and second floors of the building to directly expand and strengthen hospitality center programs at the former Downtown Chapel. The addition of a first floor restroom, second floor kitchen improvements and new equipment, food pantry access and office, meeting and extensive storage space were highlights of the project. The building at 601 W. Burnside Ave. has not been updated since the parish took it over in 1971.
The work began on Monday, Sept. 30 with a “soft close,” which continued until after the morning hospitality programs on Friday, Oct. 11th. During that time, the renovation work was done around the morning and evening programs. The “hard close” from October 11 – Nov. 11, to allow the major projects to be completed. Saint Andre’schapel, renovated under a previous administration, remained open for daily and Sunday Masses, confessions, anointing of the sick, and for prayer throughout the renovation.
The “Open Doors Campaign,” which is funding the project from its Capital Projects & Preventive Maintenance Fund, began in 2012 and is now more than 90 percent complete. The parish had a “Renovation Hard Hat Party” on Oct. 17 to welcome the entire community – parishioners, volunteers, supporters and current and prospective donors – to see the work in progress.