After 11 years of construction and delays, Thursday was the grand opening and dedication mass of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Visalia.

“Today, it becomes sacred ground and that is the cause for great rejoice,” said Father Alex Chavez, pastor of the Good Shepherd Catholic Parish.

About 3,200 people took part in the Dedication Mass of St. Charles Borromeo, a day the community has been patiently waiting for.

“For the 14,000 registered families just in this parish alone the anticipation is above and beyond,” explained Father Chavez.

“All of us under one roof and a lot of space to fit many Catholics so we are very excited. In in our little hometown of Visalia. We get the biggest parish!” said Mikaella and Sarah Peltzer, members of the community.

Bishop Joseph Brennan of the Diocese of Fresno says while construction started in 2011, the effort kicked off way before that.

He says there is a growing congregation locally and nationwide.

“The community has changed, it’s gotten bigger and it’s getting bigger every day,” said Bishop Brennan.

Father Chavez says while a growing Catholic community is great, there are fewer priests.

A church like St. Charles Borromeo, which is now the largest parish Church in North America, is exactly what was needed.

The project came with a $21 million price tag.

“A project of this size and this scope takes on a life of its own and requires a lot of time and attention,” said Bishop Brennan. “This place will be a place of pilgrimage where people from all over the state and world will come to be inspired.”

There are still some final details to complete the parish, like landscaping.

Services will begin this Sunday with Mass in Spanish at 8:30 am and 12:30 pm and in English at 10 am.

Full story at ABC30 Fresno.