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Teen Center Opens in Old St. Monica School

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On February 11, the City of Raleigh held a formal opening ceremony for the St. Monica Teen Center. The Center, which will serve as a safe place for teens from East Raleigh and throughout the city to gather for recreation, study and conversation with peers and adults, was originally the Catholic school serving the largely African American parish of St. Monica. St. Monica closed in 1968, as part of then Bishop Vincent S. Waters’ integration of parishes in the Diocese. The land and buildings were sold to the City of Raleigh, and the school building had recently been used as a daycare center.

Two and a half years ago, however, when a 16-year-old neighborhood boy was shot to death, residents petitioned the City of Raleigh and the City of Raleigh Police Department to do something to make the area safer for young people. The city decided to renovate the St. Monica building, and the St. Monica Teen Center was born.

The Center has a computer lab with six computers, a homework assistance area, a lounge and three multi-purpose rooms. It will be operated by the Raleigh Parks Department and have a full-time Director on site, and a youth advisory board made up of teens will provide input on the programs and activities the Center will offer.

Hundreds attended the ceremony to open the Center. It was a celebration of cooperative efforts among neighborhood residents, the city and the police, and many in attendance expressed hope that it would be the first of more neighborhood centers in Raleigh. Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan, Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker and others spoke to these hopes and to the effort and perseverance involved in making the Center a reality. Sr. Betty Bullen, I.H.M., a former teacher at St. Monica School, was in attendance, and Monsignor Thomas P. Hadden, Diocesan Vicar for African Ancestry Ministry and Evangelization, and a graduate of St. Monica School, was one of the speakers. He also led the Benediction for the ceremony and prayed that the Center would continue the tradition begun at St. Monica School of educating and empowering neighborhood youth.

Speakers at the opening of the St. Monica Teen Center included Msgr. Thomas P. Hadden (above), Diocesan Vicar for African Ancestry Ministry and Evangelization and a graduate of St. Monica School, and Raleigh Chief of Police Harry Dolan (below). Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker cut the ribbon for the facility (bottom), assisted by members of the Center's Teen Advisory Board.