“There’s new hope,” said David Meier, director of the diocesan Office of Construction and Real Estate. “It’s much more cost effective to build and there’s clear direction from the diocese on how we want [parishes] to build.”
If the current schedule holds, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta parish – which has worshipped in the back room of the Moose Lodge in Winchester since it was created in 2006 – will begin grading work on a new 650-seat church in November. In June, the parish community gathered for a blessing of the property at Whisper Heights Parkway and Winchester Road where the church will be built.
“This is a step that will pay enormous spiritual dividends when we build,” said Father Tom Burdick, pastor of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. “We’ve done the work of forming a community from scratch and now we’re anxious to go.”
Raising the money to build the church remains the biggest hurdle, Fr. Burdick says. The parish gala “Mission Possible: Because of You,” scheduled for Aug. 24 will provide an opportunity for parishioners and others to contribute to the building fund.
Another parish created in 2006, The Holy Name of Jesus in Redlands, recently saw the Diocesan Building Committee approve its master plan for a new campus that includes a church, education center and multi-purpose building. The new campus will bring together the two existing parish sites, located on Columbia Avenue and on Olive Avenue, on a 20-acre property north of Lugonia Avenue between Dearborn and Judson avenues.
Sister Mary Garascia, C.P.P.S., Special Projects Coordinator for the parish, calls the size and scope of the campus “exciting and daunting.” The parish studied and reflected on the theological dimensions of church building and has a design that reflects the strong Catholic faith of the community,” she says.
“This isn’t just a new building,” said Sr. Garascia, who served as pastoral coordinator of the parish from 2008 until July 1 of this year, “It’s an evangelical statement of belief in God expressed in architecture that can be seen by everyone in the city of Redlands.”
A public fundraising campaign for the new The Holy Name of Jesus campus is scheduled to begin in the Fall.
In the eastern Coachella Valley, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe hopes to begin grading work on a permanent new church in August that will replace the sprung building that was erected at the Mecca parish in 2008. Parishioners and benefactors from throughout the Coachella Valley have helped to raise the $4 million needed to build the 1,100-seat church. Father Howard Lincoln, pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Palm Desert, led the fundraising efforts.
“The Lord was giving us sign after sign in terms of donations,” said Fr. Lincoln, who also served as interim administrator of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe last year. “I feel that Christ put it in the hearts of the people of Sacred Heart Church that we would help the people of Mecca.”
Fr. Lincoln traveled outside the diocese to secure both monetary and in-kind donations for the new Mecca church, including an altar and church pews from Our Lady Queen of Angels parish in Newport Beach. Mecca parishioners made the long trip to Newport Beach to bring the donated items back in three truckloads.
The diocese is taking a more active role in the construction of a new church for St. James Parish in Perris, serving as the project manager. Along with the design template, the diocese assuming the role of project manager cuts project costs to the point where a new church is achievable for parish communities, Meier said. The St. James parish community has raised much of the construction costs already and has secured a new location for the proposed 1,500-seat church near Dunlap Road and Nuevo Road. Meier said construction of the church could begin in about a year.
Parishioners of Queen of Angels parish in Riverside have been waiting decades for a church that could accommodate weekend Mass crowds. The parish has celebrated weekend Masses in its hall since that building was constructed in 1988, with overflow watching a video feed of the liturgy in the 54-year-old church that seats only 240. But by this time next year, construction to build a new 1,500-seat church could be under way, Meier said.
“We have a very strong community, we just don’t have a building that can accommodate us,” said Mark Jaramillo, a member of the parish building committee. “For us to be able to celebrate together in one building would be a big thing for our church.”
The parish has raised more than half of the money needed to build the new church, Jaramillo said. While Queen of Angels is not an affluent parish, Jaramillo says there has been a large number of donors willing to give what they can.
“People are really sacrificing to see that this gets done,” he says. “We’re building something for the community of Catholics that will come after us.”