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WILDOMAR—St. Frances of Rome parishioners, supporters, and staff gathered to celebrate a groundbreaking ceremony for a new permanent church at the Wildomar parish on July 10. They were joined by Bishop Alberto Rojas and local civic leaders.

The new church plans call for construction of an 18,000 square foot church building with a seating capacity of 1,200. Plans also call for additional parking improvements and a decorative wall at the entrance of the church that houses the parish’s historic bell.

The application process for land use entitlements needed to begin the construction was delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic and the project also saw a budget increase due to the rising cost of building materials, also attributed to the pandemic.

St. Frances of Rome received its conditional use permit from the city of Wildomar at the end of June. Two days after the July 10 groundbreaking ceremony, earth moving equipment began the grading process. Construction of the church is expected to take up to 16 months.

The parish began the capital campaign to build the church in 2017. While there was some frustration about the pace of the entitlement during the difficult days of the pandemic, the goal of building a new church provided a rallying point for the parish community, according to St. Frances of Rome pastor Father James Oropel.

“The people have been really focused and excited from the get-go,” he said. “[The new church] will give us life.”