Father Suresh Rajaian said he began working on bringing a gymnasium to St. Ignatius almost as soon as he came to the Cayman Islands to lead the parish and school six years ago. On Friday, a ceremonial groundbreaking marked the start of construction on the $5 million multipurpose sports hall.
Rajaian will not see the building go up. He is returning to Detroit, Michigan, the headquarters of the Roman Catholic diocese to which St. Ignatius belongs, in a week’s time.
“That’s how life is,” he said. “They take you at any time. It’s good we have put everything in place.”
All that remains is to raise the final half million dollars needed for the project.
Officials began a drive to raise the final $1 million in February. St. Ignatius School Advisory Board Chairman Anthony Partridge said the school is about halfway to that goal. Jeremy Rice, who served as master of ceremonies for the event, urged students to keep the ball rolling.
“Go home and ask your moms and dads if they’ve done their part,” he told the students who were gathered for the groundbreaking.
The event also drew a few parents along with public officials such as Legislative Assembly members Barbara Conolly, David Wight and Roy McTaggart.
The Rev. Arturo Cepeda, bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit, appeared in his vestments and blessed the site with holy water before the shovels turned the earth.
The two-storey, 23,000-square-foot sports complex, which will sit at the front entrance to the school, will be the largest project ever undertaken by St. Ignatius and will include a basketball court, which can also be used for other sports and community activities, as well as 10 classrooms on its second floor, one of which will be used for drama classes.
Partridge said the complex “represents so many wonderful opportunities for all of our students here at St. Ignatius, not only in sports, but also in the arts, entertainment and drama”.
The building will also serve as a hurricane shelter and should be able to hold about 300 people during such a disaster.
“I also see it being used for community events,” Partridge said. “We might be able to rent it out.”
Construction on the building is expected to be completed by September 2020.
Rajaian said he expects he will be able to return to see it open.
“I’ll be in touch,” he said. “This is part of my life.”
He said he was pleased to have the building be his final accomplishment in Cayman.
“It means a great achievement,” he said. “We are taking things to another level in our growth.”