It’s been more than a decade in the making. 

Parishioners of Our Lady of Soledad Catholic Church in the city of Coachella will soon see their offerings materialize into a new church that will accommodate 1,200 people — nearly double the amount their current church can hold. The new parish, which is less than a mile away, will be dedicated Dec. 7. It cost about $6.5 million to build the new church, which has been in the planning stages since 2007.

The Rev. Guy Wilson, pastor of Lady of Soledad, sees the church serving as a hub for the residents and interfaith groups in the growing Coachella region. He envisions hosting forums during election season and events for nearby churches that are not just Catholic.

The parishioners, he said, have shown immense dedication to see this space through.

“It’s been a sacrifice,” said Wilson.

Wilson estimates about 85% of Coachella’s 45,000-plus residents are Catholic. In an 18-year span, the city has grown by 22,911 residents and is largely working-class and Latino.

Although the Catholic Church has seen a decline in membership in recent years, the Diocese of San Bernardino — which serves Riverside and San Bernardino counties — has experienced continuous growth. The diocese in 2014 reported 1.5 million Catholics; today it’s grown to 1.7 million, said John Andrews, spokesman for the diocese.

Our Lady of Soledad hosts seven Masses Saturdays and Sundays. It baptizes about 40 infants every month. The church also has four missions, primarily in farmworker communities. Mass at the church fills up and some people have to tune in from a hall through video and a sound system. 

“It just keeps growing,” said Wilson, who has been with Our Lady of Soledad since 2012.

Most recently, the church also welcomed a number of Central American migrants seeking asylum. 

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