Catholic churches in the San Bernadino diocese have been empty or partially filled for more than a year but that hasn’t stopped two parishes from moving forward in their journey to build a new house of worship.
St. Frances of Rome parish in Wildomar and St. Mary parish in Fontana are scheduled to break ground on new churches in the summer and fall, respectively. Although parish life has been upended by Covid-19, the pastors of both parishes say their faith communities continued to plan and fundraise toward their church projects.
“The people have been really focused and excited,” said Father James Oropel, Pastor of St. Frances of Rome.
The Wildomar parish, which currently celebrates its Masses in a multi-purpose building, plans to construct 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. David Meier, director of the diocesan office of construction and real estate, said he hopes to begin grading work at the site in June. Fr. Oropel admits his parish is anxious to get clearance to begin the earth moving phase. “People can’t wait to get that [grading] permit.”
St. Mary’s is also building a 1,200-seat church and adding parking improvements. Father Al Utzig, pastor, said pandemic-related delays have somewhat dampened enthusiasm for the new church.
“It’s lying idle,” he says. “But people will be excited when the earth starts moving.”
The pandemic has slowed the land use entitlement process for new church projects as most city planners are working remotely and unable to have critical in-person meetings. “You have to look at [building] plans. It’s hard to do that in a Zoom meeting,” Meier says. The economic impacts of Covid-19 have also led to a significant increase in the cost of building materials, Meier said, driving up the overall project cost.
When the pandemic forced closure of churches in the diocese in March of 2020, St. Frances of Rome suspended the fundraising campaign for the $8.5 million new church, but they continued to take a second collection at Mass throughout the year to benefit the project. St. Mary’s has also continued to take a second collection to benefit its new church project, Fr. Utzig said.
When the people see construction begin it will “give us life,” says Fr. Oropel.
“This church is a dedicated place. It’s a place to encounter the divine,” he says. “That’s what we look forward to.”
The above comes from a May 7 story in the Inland Catholic Byte.
Yes, but will it have the Traditional Latin Mass????
Does it Matter?
Hopefully the Church will have a Latin Mass, and hopefully we will have that choice.
Always with this question. Sigh. Traddys never let it go. Why not just accept Vatican II as the work of the Holy Spirit?
I hope the church has reverent novus ordo Masses and that it attracts thousands of Catholics to worship.
Decent looking exterior. I dread to think of what the interior will be. Stage instead of altar, tabernacle off in a closet. Sorry to sound so negative, but it’s happened again and again. What could have been beautiful and spiritually uplifting turns out so often to be something so much less.
Larry, I agree. What a shame that the Vatican doesn’t have a strong list of requirements for the design and construction of all Catholic churches, as distinctive Catholic sacred places of worship, mainly used for the priest to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Why do you assume the worst?
Anonymous, devout Catholics have been too-often betrayed with modern, ugly buildings that do not even remotely resemble a church. This hurts many devout, sensitive Catholic worshippers very much. It also hurts to have Weddings, Baptisms, First Communions, Confirmations, even Funeral Masses, etc., in ugly modernistic buildings that are serving as Catholic houses of worship– with many photos, videos, etc., of unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime religious family events. And when the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the main altar, and shoved off to some weird place– that really hurts many devout Cathics most of all. It is good to speak up about these atrocities! The Church needs to be sensitive to the religious needs of worshippers. Hopefully, these two new large churches will fulfill the religious needs of their Catholic worshippers.
Anon, words have meaning. How they are joined has meaning. Your comment implies that those who attend churches designed as the Church now wants them designed are not devout Catholics. Those who prefer the old cruciform construction and decoration are no more devout than anyone else. Besides, the church is not supposed to be the backdrop for family pictures. Please stop impugning the devoutness of millions of Catholics across the country.
First, I think we should congratulate the two parishes for being able to build two large churches that can hold so many people. Kudos!
Second, I would as people to be positive about this great effort. A church with the altar as the center focus of the building is never ugly. The altar is supposed to be the focal point of a Catholic church. The church should be designed so that everyone can see what is going on at the altar. Except for the crucifix and the tabernacle, all else is extra.
Will they have giant projection screens to display the praise and worship song lyrics?
No we are not trads we are simply Roman Catholics, and no- we will never give up on bringing the Traditional Latin mass back to holy Mother Church where she rightfully belongs instead of the man-made Novus Ordo.
You are in schism if you think the Novus Ordo is invalid.
If you think the Mass is invalid, then you are in grave error.