WYANDANCH - A groundbreaking ceremony was held this morning for a Wyandanch church outreach center that was devastated by a fire.

The rectory and outreach center of Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Church were destroyed Dec. 30, 2007 when a man set fire to the building.

The outreach program is one of the largest on Long Island and helps feed and clothe more than a thousand low-income people a month.

The $1.3 million needed to build the new center was raised with the help of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, which contributed $750,000, and through a campaign by the parish called "Rising from the Ashes."

Noelle Campbell, the director of the outreach center, says she has been waiting a long time for the groundbreaking. Organizers are hoping the new 3,500-square foot facility will be completed by the fall.

Wendell Gerald, of Wyandanch, pleaded guilty in Sept. 2008 to starting the fire that ravaged parts of the church. He was sentenced to three-and-a-half to seven years in prison.

Church crippled by fire to open new center