Built in 1965, our existing church, hall and gym building was not designed to be a church. It was intended to be a school lunchroom and assembly space and the school gymnasium. Its use as a worship space was to be temporary until a parish church was constructed.
The movable wall dividing the worship space from the hall and gym is not soundproof, so after-Mass hospitality and other parish activities cannot use the hall or gym on weekends. The gym is not large enough for a regulation basketball court, so the parish cannot host CYO athletic events. The small size of the parish hall limits attendance at parish social events. Using folding chairs for additional seating at Mass is noisy and distracting.
We can and should do better, which is why over fifty parishioners participated on planning committees in 2002 and 2003 for a new church. More than 1,900 families and individual parishioners contributed $6.7 million in our first two capital campaigns. Click here for a list of our most generous contributors of $5,000 or more to the project.
We completed detailed environmental reports and obtained city approval of the location and exterior design of our new church in 2006. Because of the 2008 Great Recession we decided to delay a final capital campaign for the remaining funds needed to build our new church.
But the Great Recession didn’t stop us! Instead, we worked to increase the value of land no longer needed for cemetery use at the parish cemetery on Mission Boulevard. We successfully increased its value from $2 million to $6 million and its sale proceeds were added to the building fund. We also worked with the Diocese’s Catholic Cemeteries department to construct a columbarium in the small historic cemetery next to the Mission church. Revenues from the sale of niches in the new columbarium are also adding to the building fund.
Our design team revised our new church’s engineering design to reduce construction costs by $2.3 million and avoid potential impacts to buried cultural and historic resources by changing the structural foundation design and eliminating the planned access road near the creek.
When we submitted these changes to the city in 2016 we were informed our revised design would be treated as a new project and additional requirements would need to be met as conditions of renewed city approval. This included several new studies and updating previously completed environmental reports. These studies and reports have been completed and accepted by the city.
While these studies were completed, the interior design of our new church was also completed and approved by Bishop Barber. Click here for an advance look! A prominent part of the interior design of our new church are a retablo behind the altar and eight stained glass windows, which we have carefully restored. Two are located behind the altar in our current church. The other six are in storage. The retablo will be hand crafted in the same manner as the retablo in the historic Mission church and will be a visual connection to our parish history.
In 2015 the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) was amended to require consultation with Native American tribes as a condition of project approvals. In 2020 the city determined this new requirement should apply to our new church project and notified tribes with historic ties to our location. Two tribes responded that our parish property should be classified as a tribal cultural resource under CEQA. The city is requesting additional studies and negotiations with the tribes before we can move forward. We do not know how long this will take or cost to resolve.
The parish has nearly $9 million on deposit at the Diocese reserved for the new church. Bishop Barber supports building our new church and will approve construction when we raise the remaining amount needed for the project.
Over the last 20 years we have worked hard to keep the project moving along and have successfully overcome several challenges. Click here to see the history of our journey.
Our remaining challenges are: 1) The need to raise more funds because of construction cost inflation; 2) The new tribal cultural resource issue that has not yet been resolved; and 3) Declining parish membership and Sunday Mass attendance.
Our pastor emeritus Fr. Simas once compared our journey to the forty-years it took the Israelites to reach the Promised Land after departing Egypt. We will continue to work on the remaining challenges. With the continued faith, prayers, and support of our parish community we will build our new church!
Here are the next steps for our new church project: