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Refurbished St. Mary School in German Village hopes to be South Side’s ‘hub of faith’

Work on the $18-million renovation and expansion of St. Mary School in German Village is almost done, with a Feb. 1 ceremony planned to mark the completion.

"The only thing we're working on now is the first floor," said the Rev. Vince Nguyen, pastor of St. Mary Church.

The South 3rd Street school will be able to hold 530 students in grades preschool through 8th grade, principal Gina Stull said. Nguyen said capacity is now 430, with current enrollment at 390.

"Our school serves over 30 ZIP codes," Nguyen said, with 40% of the students Catholic and 60% non-Catholic.

"What’s really key is our church and school serve not only the South End," he said. Stull said about 30% of the students are Latino.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus Bishop Earl K. Fernandes is scheduled to dedicate the new space at 1 p.m. Feb. 1, said Hannah Lewis, the school's marketing director.

On Wednesday, crews were still painting in first-floor areas, with equipment stacked in the gymnasium.

The lobby will include a touch-screen video display with alumni photos, Stull said. The elementary school, which houses students from pre-kindergarten through third grade, also has new bathrooms and a window-filled corner art room and a large space dubbed The Hub, where students can work independently and use computers.

Fourth- and fifth-graders and middle schoolers are housed in two separate buildings.

Stull said she hopes the refurbished school will encourage more families to enroll there.

Work on the renovation project started in October 2022.

The school also is continuing to raise $2 million for an endowment for students.

A building that housed church offices is now a Nationwide Children’s Hospital school health center that opened a year ago. Also, the Dominican Learning Center for adults opened a month ago. That's an adult education center the Dominican Sisters of Peace run. The church offices are moving to the rectory.

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Nguyen said the church's membership has grown from 355 in 2019 to now more than 1,000, after the parish consolidated with Corpus Christi and St. Ladislas, two South Side churches that had less than 100 members each, he said. The two churches were among 15 the diocese in 2023 announced were closing, including nine in Franklin County.

"We have to be a hub of faith on the South Side," Nguyen said.

The work is the latest in a number of projects at the school. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus bought the former Golden Hobby shop building at 630 S. Third St. from the city of Columbus in 2020 for $1.23 million and converted it into the middle school building. Also that year, the roof on the elementary school's gym was replaced.


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