New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera announced that he will open a church in New Rochelle.
In a press conference in City Hall Tuesday morning, Rivera spoke of his plans to restore North Avenue Church.
Rivera’s Church, Refugio De Esperanza will buy the church with Rivera’s support.
"It is a privilege for me to be here," Rivera said. "The main goal is to restore the church. The moment I saw it I fell in love."
The former Presbyterian church that was built in 1907, was under public ownership for many decades. Over the years, the structure has fallen into worse physical condition because the city has been unable to sustain if financially. Renovation costs for the church are estimated to be $ 3 million.
“It is a much beloved structure in New Rochelle history,” Mayor Noam Bramson said. “Today we are here to celebrate to bring the church back to its original luster.”
Rivera, originally from Panama, is a familiar figure in New Rochelle through his involvement in the Clubhouse Grill Restaurant on Memorial Highway and through a number of community events and activities.
He said he will devote himself to the church “full-time” when he retires from baseball.
“We have a lot of goals to work with the youth,” he said. “That is my passion. We are working hard to make it open as soon as possible.”
City Manager Charles Strome III said construction could begin in a few months.
Barbara Davis, city historian and community relations coordinator for the New Rochelle Public Library, smiled as Rivera spoke.
“I feel fabulous,” she said. “We thought the church would be lost all together.”
Rivera said that he is happy with his decision to restore the church.
“To me it’s worth it to have this beautiful church renovated in the city of New Rochelle,” he said.