As we announced last weekend, our parish is at a crossroads and together we must choose a path forward. We have recommended that we build a large worship space where the upper parking lot is currently located and that we build additional parking on our land south of the existing parking lot. This new worship space would have a capacity of around 1000 people. The recommendation is now in the middle of a month-long parish-wide discernment process.
Building this large worship space would solve our current Mass overcrowding issues and enable us to suitably welcome the expected growth in parishioners. It would also enable us to do a much better job celebrating the church’s high liturgies – Christmas and Easter. Further, this would foster a more unified parish enabling more of us to join together in fewer Masses. An additional benefit of this would likely be a better liturgical experience since the parish’s ministerial talent would not be spread across as many Masses as they are today. Lastly, building this large worship space would complete the original parish plan developed by our visionary founders. In the Narthex you can see an artist’s rendering of the entire complex of SFOA buildings developed for the original capital campaign which built the facilities we currently have.
Pursuing this recommendation does present substantial challenges, however. Principle among them is the cost. Our current estimate is that a large worship space consistent with the beautiful facilities we now enjoy would cost around $15M to build (including the new parking lot). Our recommendation is that $15M be set as the “not to exceed cost” for this project. This is something that we must pay for – the money will not come from the diocese or from Rome. Hence, if we decide to pursue building this large worship space, each of us is committing to give our “share” of the cost – whatever we individually and prayerfully discern that might be. It is important to note that we will not start building until the money is actually collected; the parish will not take on any additional debt. Lastly, building a large worship space is a long-lead time endeavor. Our estimates are that it will take 3- 4 years for the capital campaign to raise the funds and then at least another 2 years to build it.
Two Town Hall meetings were held to answer your questions (Wednesday, Nov. 20th at 7pm in the Gathering Space and Saturday, Nov. 23rd at 10am in the Fireside Room). During Mass on December 7th and 8th you will be asked to provide your written feedback on the recommendation. A team of Pastoral Council members, independent from the group of parish leaders that developed the recommendation, will evaluate the Parish-wide feedback and determine the will of the parishioners. The decision will be announced to you at Mass on January 11th and 12th .
Please pray over this decision. It is an important one for us all.