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CLEVELAND– Members of a local Catholic parish have an extra blessing to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Wednesday night, they dedicated a brand new church that members say will allow them to do more for their community.

It’s a new beginning for parishioners at Saint Agnes-Our Lady of Fatima Church near East 66th Street and Lexington Avenue in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood. The Cleveland Catholic Diocese says it is the first new Catholic Church built on Cleveland’s east side in more than sixty years.

Bishop Richard Lennon led the dedication service for the new church and altar.

“This is a mainstay in the community and this is saying something very special that we’re gonna be here, and I think that’s great,” said Bishop Lennon.

The parish was created 35 years ago when two churches merged into one. The membership began to outgrow the original 190-seat church. Fundraising efforts led to the $2.5 million, 32-seat worship space that was dedicated Wednesday evening.

“I would say that half of the people who come to the bible study do not actually belong to the church, but they have learned so much. They’ve started to come on a regular basis, and so I would venture to say that one day in the near future they may belong,” said parishioner Anna Smith.

St. Agnes-Our Lady of Fatima, led by Father Bob Marva, is one of the few churches in the Cleveland Diocese with a primarily African-American congregation. Church leaders say they want to serve the youth in the community, focusing on everything from tutoring to basketball.

“We have some other activities, where they actually go to other places in the country where there are African-American Catholics and they see how they are doing leadership things in their community,” Smith said.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to see people of color here and worshiping the Catholic faith,” said parishioner Terrence Marsh.

The new church also includes relics preserved from Cleveland-area parishes that Bishop Lennon closed or consolidated several years ago, including the altar and some of the stained glass windows.

“People love it because what they have given is still being used now, and it shows the continuity of the Catholic faith in the community,” said Bishop Lennon.