On Nov. 25, the entire student body gathered at the Prep and Villa Events Center to celebrate the dedication and near completion of the Phase II part of the project. The new 1,600-seat gym has been named the Joann Mullen Gymnasium, in memory of the late Mrs. Mullen, former principal and longtime teacher at Cathedral Prep. The new 500-seat natatorium has been named the David M. Hallman III Aquatics Center, in memory of the late 2010 Cathedral Prep graduate who was devoted a water polo player and swimmer.
The dedication ceremony included a combined mass of the two schools that was led by Erie Diocesan Bishop Lawrence Persico. The celebration of mass was also assisted by Bishop Emeritus Donald Trautman, ten additional priests and a deacon, many of whom were Cathedral Prep graduates themselves.
Other notable guests included William Mullen, the Hallman Family, Mayor of the City of Erie Joseph Sinnott, and countless alumni, benefactors, and parents.
Following Mass, speeches were made by Director of Strategic Initiatives Chris Hagerty, President Fr. Scott Jabo, and Mayor Sinnott. In his speech, Mayor Sinnott praised the construction of the PVEC as a bright new building on Erie’s historically industrial 12th Street corridor and said it will have a positive impact on the Erie metropolitan area. Mr. Hagerty and President Jabo both spoke of how the PVEC is a great facility for both the school and for athletes around the region who will be able to use the facility at one point or another.
When asked what the new gym and pool mean for the city, Mr. Hagerty responded, “It means that our students will have opportunity they never had before and will be playing in top notch facilities second to none in Erie County.” Mr. Hagerty continued to express how the new facility will be open for use by the parochial grade schools and additional events that are held in the city throughout the year.
Bishop Persico then proceeded with the blessing of the PVEC with Holy Water. After blessing the Gymnasium, Bishop Persico proceeded to move on and bless the Aquatics Center while the student body of the schools remained in the gym and watched an inspirational video of commemorating the history of the PVEC.
The Phase I part of the original Cathedral Prep Events Center included the construction of Dollinger Field and the current main concourse on the demolished remains of the Erie Malleable Iron factory. The Phase I project broke ground on November 7, 2009 and was originally dedicated on September 10, 2010.
In December 2013, it was announced that a $10 million donation was made to Cathedral Prep from an anonymous alumnus who credits Cathedral Prep for all the success that he has achieved in his lifetime. The generous, anonymous donation greatly helped expedite the start of the Phase II project, which included a new gym, natatorium, and an additional parking lot on the east side of Walnut Street.
When asked about his thoughts on the dedication ceremony, Mr. Hagerty responded, “It was a huge success. I am proud of all our students and I would not have changed a single thing. It was a once in a lifetime moment and all the students behaved like gentlemen and ladies.”
Mr. Hagerty explained, “The hardest part of the whole development and construction process of the property was patience it required. Not the cost, not the design, but the patience, the patience to do everything right.”
While the Gymnasium is currently completed and open for use, the Aquatics Center is still on the final leg of construction. Mr. Hagerty, however, expects the pool to be open in time to host the January 16th swim meet against Canisius High School. In addition to the pool, work is currently being done on the east side of Walnut Street at the former Hoffman Rigging property. The new site will include a parking lot for additional vehicle accommodations as well as a field that will be used for events such as javelin and discus throws during track meets. The site is expected to be completed in 2016.