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story.lead_photo.caption The Catholic Charities for Central and Northeast Missouri logo is displayed on a bus used by the organization. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri plans to open a health and social services center in the Shikles Auditorium building after entering into a redevelopment agreement with the Jefferson City Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City announced Thursday.

Shikles Auditorium, at 1200 Linden Drive in Jefferson City, is currently the home of community dinner theater group Capital City Productions. The Jefferson City Housing Authority currently leases the building to the Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, which then leases it to CCP.

The building, which formerly housed the chapel and gymnasium of a seminary for the Missionaries of La Salette, a Catholic religious order of men, will now be used as a health and social services center for the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City.

The diocese will renovate the building as part of the agreement. Closure on the property is expected after the current tenant's lease expires Dec. 31. The diocese will have 18 months from closing to complete renovations of the building. It is expected that the center will open after the renovations are complete, sometime in 2020.

The center will be part of the services of Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri, the social outreach arm of the diocese. The purchase is being funded through a grant of the SSM Health St. Mary's Foundation — Jefferson City.

"Through partnerships with Helias Catholic High School, SSM Health, our local parishes, and other faith-based and secular social service providers, we know we can make a real difference in the community," said Dan Lester, executive director of Catholic Charities, in a news release. "We are thrilled with this new opportunity to expand our services, especially in such a central location that will allow easy access for so many of our neighbors."

Catholic Charities plans to seek community input regarding the type of services being offered. A series of open forums will be scheduled where community members will be able to provide suggestions.

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"Ultimately, our goal is to provide compassionate health and social services that will improve the welfare of some of the most vulnerable members of our community," Lester said.

Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri provides a variety of services throughout the diocese's 38 counties.

"This new center will provide a place of mercy in an area of our city in great need of the healing of Jesus Christ," said Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of the Diocese of Jefferson City. "Whenever we give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, shelter to the homeless; whenever we defend the weak and vulnerable, provide medicine and care to the sick, comfort to the grief-stricken, and hope to those in time of despair, we bring glad tidings to the poor and announce the Kingdom of God."

Cynthia Quetsch, executive director of the Housing Authority, said the development is a "win-win."

"We are excited that Catholic Charities is interested in preserving a historic building and bringing services to the local community," Quetsch said in a news release. "The auditorium, being a non-residential building, was not furthering our housing mission."

The Land Clearance Redevelopment Authority hopes to have additional properties available for redevelopment later in 2019.

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