A formal groundbreaking was held Sunday, Aug. 28, at the Santa Teresita Youth Conference Center on the grounds of the St. Anthony Retreat Center. On hand were Three Rivers residents and philanthropists Robert and Mary Hohne, who have donated the $1 million in funds to build what was once just a dream: a 200-seat chapel for youth services and events.
The new building will be named in honor of Saint Junipero Serra, a Roman Catholic Spanish priest and friar of the Franciscan Order who founded a mission in Baja California and the first nine of 21 Spanish missions in California.
Jeff Blagg of JB Construction Co. in Tulare has been working with Father John and Santa Teresita for several years, most recently preparing the site for the youth chapel.
“We thoroughly surveyed every tree on the property and took 33 trees out in preparation for this groundbreaking,” explained Blagg.
Two trees will be planted for every one removed, said Father John.
“We plan to respect our environment as well as provide a great facility for the kids,” he continued.
The five-year-old Santa Teresita Youth Conference Center at St. Anthony Retreat incorporates green-building solutions in the layout, construction, and building process. Passive solar features are incorporated, and solar panels are planned. The facility currently consists of the Main Hall with stage and sound system, a restaurant-sized kitchen, two dormitory buildings, two conference rooms, a swimming pool and pool-house, a craft room, and a portable building that serves as extra classrooms or whatever type of space is needed.
The Hohnes been active at St. Clair’s Mission and the Retreat for as long as they have lived in the community. As Three Rivers residents for more than 20 years, the Hohnes leave a legacy for their own children and grandchildren as well as for all the youth who will visit Santa Teresita, now and for generations to come.