Franciscan Renewal Center Opens New Community Life Facility

Peter Jordan Photography. Photo caption: From left: FRC Board of Directors Chair, Steve Lyons; Paradise Valley Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner and son; Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Lifetime Trustee, Paul N.Critchfield; FRC Executive Director, Fr. Joseph Schwab, OFM; Westlake Reed Leskosky, Dan Clevenger, AIA; Claudia Critchfield; Laurie Devine.

The Grand Opening and Blessing of the new Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Community Life Center took place at the Franciscan Renewal Center (the “Casa”) on June 9.  

This structure marks the final new construction project of the Master Plan for expansion and improvements, approved by the Franciscan Friars Province of St. Barbara and the FRC Board of Directors in 2011. 

Designed with flexible meeting rooms, high-tech audio/visual, and a catering kitchen, the building increases the Casa’s capacity to meet the growing demand for nonprofit meeting and conference space on its 25-acre campus. Other uses for the 12,500 sq. ft. (under roof), solar-powered net-zero electricity building include Casa-sponsored retreats, workshops, classes and special events; hands-on learning spaces for the Family Catechesis Program; volunteer training, choir practice and liturgy office. This largest meeting space on the campus means there will be a total of over 17,000 sq. ft. available for conferences and activities. And an outdoor plaza with cool grass and shade trees will make the Community Life Center a welcoming place for people of all ages to gather. 

In a letter to the community, Paul N. Critchfield, nephew of Virginia G. Piper and Lifetime Trustee, says, “We as Trustees and staff (of the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust) truly salute the great benefactors, volunteers, Casa friars and staff, and special committees that have made this wonderful Community Life Center happen. It will help all of us find new ways to grow and to serve and help each other. On behalf of the Trustees, we are very happy to be partners with the Casa community.”

Virginia G. Piper’s other philanthropic projects at the Casa include the 1971 renovation and expansion of the Chapel, dedicated in memory of her first husband, Paul V. Galvin; and Piper Hall, in memory of her second husband, Kenneth M. Piper.

All FRC Master Plan projects were fully funded by grants and donations—they include:

• Infrastructure additions and improvements
• Perricone Plaza guest rooms and swimming pool/spa remodel, 2013
• The new Assisi Guest Lodge with 32 additional overnight guest rooms, 2015
• The new Conventual Church of Our Lady of the Angels, 2017
• Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Community Life Center, 2019

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