Gannon University Breaks Ground for Construction of St. Joseph House

Posted: September 22, 2017

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Friday, Sept. 22, at 1:30 p.m. for the St. Joseph House of Faith in Action on the 400 block of W. Fourth Street in Erie.

St. Joseph House will be an outreach ministry of Gannon University's Center for Social Concerns with a mission to humbly serve neighbors in the spirit and example of St. Joseph the Worker through purposeful programs and actions based upon four pillars of service, simplicity, community and reflection.

Gannon University President Keith Taylor, Ph.D. described the project's multiple aims as providing a home base and living space for groups from Gannon and beyond to serve the Our West Bayfront (OWB) community, creating a retreat and community-based learning center for small group activities and gatherings and providing a home for working adults so that they may save for the opportunity to own their own homes in the neighborhood.

"The St. Joseph House of Faith in Action provides a welcoming home for all who seek to serve in solidarity with the local urban community and to be transformed through their own efforts to transform the neighborhoods of Our West Bayfront, one act of kindness at a time," said Gannon University president Keith Taylor, Ph.D.

The building, which was designed to be in harmony with the existing residences of its historic neighborhood, will feature a community room for groups to gather for reflection, social programming and casual relaxation as well as open space to accommodate 12-15 for simple overnight stays. There will also be two small private bedrooms for permanent employee tenants, a guest bedroom/office, three full bathrooms and a large kitchen with commercial appliances and large preparation surfaces.

Funding for the creation of the St. Joseph House will be guaranteed by the Taylor family. Building Systems Inc. (BSI) has graciously committed to be a partner as well seeing this as an important community outreach. BSI has also engaged local supply houses as partners on the project, and many have offered their commitment and support. BSI along with the Gannon maintenance staff have agreed to also manage the volunteer build of the center so that Gannon students, employees and members of the broader community may join in the construction effort. We welcome additional support from friends and partners of Gannon University and the OWB neighborhoods who are of like mind, heart and interest in achieving the purpose of this project.

"We want to create an awareness of the great things that are happening and the transformation that is coming to OWB making it a model for community development. That's a lot of hope for a small project, but we see St. Joseph House as a seed that will grow to become a strong symbol of hope for the community and others to see," Taylor said.

St. Joseph House of Faith in Action Founding Principles and Purpose

St. Joseph House of Faith in Action is intentionally located at the heart of the Our West Bayfront community to provide a simple yet functional home base for individuals and groups to gather and join in as integrated partners in the community's revitalization.

The facility's design reflects its intended purposes to:

  1. Provide a launch for participatory OWB community house building projects that use the purposeful and substantial labor of many Gannon University students and employees, neighbors and interested local universities, organizations and businesses.

  2. Serve as a safe and affordable home for two or three Gannon University employees who will be present for neighbors and visitors and have an opportunity to save for their dream of home ownership.

  3. Provide programs and community gathering space for Gannon University students and employees focusing on urban sustainability and neighborhood revitalization, including housing restoration and blight remediation, urban Alternative Break Service Trips (StayService), summer programs and other programs and service initiatives of the Center for Social Concerns, Campus Ministry and other University programs

  4. Offer opportunities for students from other universities and persons from other organizations who wish to participate in and learn from the programs and engagement in the OWB community.