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New Year’s Eve lighting marks new era for St. Louis Church

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The former St. Louis Church was lit up on New Year’s Eve to mark a new beginning for the 100-year-old community landmark (photo by Rachel Morin).

On New Year’s Eve, the façade of the former St. Louis Church in New Auburn was bathed in light, signaling a new beginning for the now vacant building that served as the heart of the neighborhood’s Catholic community for nearly 100 years.

The symbolic event was arranged by the building’s new ownership group, Pilotage, consisting of Mary Callahan, Daniel Dube, Christine Holden, Donna LeBrun and Noel Smith. The group, which bought the building for $75 from the Diocese of Portland, plans to engage local residents in an effort to repurpose the structure to play an active, ongoing role in the life of the community.

The lights were donated by Kennebec Rental, with transportation and setup donated by Sundown Construction. From 5 to 8 p.m., Pilotage members and local officials greeted local residents drawn to the site by the spectacular lighting that was visible from both sides of the Androscoggin River.

Noel Smith welcomed the onlookers, thanking them for their interest in the project and wishing St. Louis Church a happy new year and 100th birthday. Father Robert LaRiviere recalled the history of the church and spoke of his gratitude that the building, while no longer a religious institution, would remain a vital part of the community. Auburn Mayor Jonathan Labonte expressed his pleasure that the Pilotage group had stepped forward and his feeling that the fate of the building rests in good hands.

Mary Callahan and Donna LeBrun thanked those in attendance for their support and enthusiasm for the work ahead. Christine Holden, City Councilors Tizz Crowley, Belinda Gerry and Leroy Walker, and State Senator Eric L. Brakey greeted participants and shared memories of St. Louis Church and New Auburn. Those still in attendance at 8 p.m. closed the event with a chorus of “Auld Lang Syne” and a toast to a new beginning for the Auburn landmark.

Pilotage is gratefully accepting donations to help pay for the building’s utility costs, especially oil, during this winter heating season. Contributions should be mailed to Pilotage, 179 Lisbon Street, Suite 202, Lewiston ME 04240 or directly to the Pilotage Account at Great Falls Federal Credit Union, 34 Bates Street, Lewiston ME 04240.

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