This architects rendering shows the proposed Corpus Christi Church from 34th Street.
Eleven years after it was established, Corpus Christi Parish is getting ready to build its first church – a magnificent 4,400-square-metre facility for 1,500 people.
The new church will cost $16 million, which Father Jim Corrigan is hoping to raise through a pledge campaign.
Corrigan, the pastor at St. Theresa and Corpus Christi parishes, has already sent 4,000 letters asking families to pledge $20 a week for five years, which amounts to $5,200 per family. He estimates the parish could raise $15 million in pledges if 3,000 families make such a commitment.
"Pledge cards are already coming in and we have $1.6 million pledged right now," he said.
"The ideal would be to get $16 million committed, but we know that we need to have at least half committed before the archdiocese will support the other half; they'll lend us some money for the other half."
Corpus Christi has been administered from St. Theresa Parish since its inception in 2001 and some of its 300 families have been attending Mass in school gyms since 2004.
"I know 300 (families) may not seem like much, but the reality is there are a lot of people who don't want to go to Mass in a (school) gymnasium," said the pastor. "But when we show them that this is for real, that we are going to build this, they will come."
Corrigan said if the fundraising goes well, construction at 3307-28A Ave. could start next summer.
"We have to build something and the people will come to it," he said. "When you look east of 50th Street and south of 23rd Avenue, there is immense growth there and many of those are Catholic families, including Filipino and Indian families."
Parishioners have been planning with the architects for about two years and "we have a good design concept," Corrigan pointed out.
"We have done research into what we need for rooms and facilities within the parish."
At the beginning of October a plan was presented to parishioners at St. Theresa "because we are going to start (by asking) parishioners at St. Theresa to help build this church.
"We intend to expand our horizons and invite basically the whole archdiocese at one point to participate because this is the Archdiocese of Edmonton's church."
The church being planned is going to be large, Corrigan said.
"It's going to be about the same size as St. Theresa's - 1,500 seats - because we know that the population east of 50th Street will soon equal the population of Millwoods, (which) now is 75,000 to 80,000 people."
Jonathan Zacharko, co-chair of the building committee, became involved with the planning of the new church soon after he and his wife moved into the area some four years ago.
"Being involved in it has been exciting for me because I have seen things progress.
"Certainly there is a sense of anticipation," Zacharko said.
Last year the parish selected HFKS Architects to design Corpus Christi Church. Among other projects, the company designed Holy Trinity Church in Spruce Grove and St. Joseph's Church in Grande Prairie.
The church, Zacharko explained, will be fan-shaped much like St. Charles, St. Theresa and Holy Trinity. A unique feature is the roofline and ceiling which will have a traditional cruciform shape, open to below.
The Corpus Christi symbolism will be evident throughout the church through the use of design elements such as circular windows.
The double-sided tabernacle will be at the centre of the cruciform shape, connecting the body of the church to the Blessed Sacrament chapel immediately behind the altar wall.
The outside of the Blessed Sacrament chapel will have a lantern form, visible to 34th Street, "serving as a strong sign of our faith to the community which the church will serve."
In addition to the liturgical elements, the church will also feature a hall to accommodate 250 people with a full commercial kitchen, office area for administration, ample gathering space and plenty of space for meeting rooms.
In 2004, Corpus Christi parishes started offering Sunday morning Masses in the gyms of Father Michael Troy and Holy Family schools.
That was discontinued this year, with Masses offered only at Father Michael Troy School in order to build community.
It's working. "We have noticed a big increase in attendance ever since we combined the schools," Zacharko said.
"It really brought the community together because before we had two communities."
Despite not having a permanent home, Corpus Christi has its own parish council and various committees, including a liturgy committee and a hospitality committee.
Financially, however, the parish is still joined at the hip with St. Theresa, which handles the finances.
"It's an autonomous little operation yet it is in collaboration with St. Theresa," Corrigan noted.
The two parishes share three priests, who live in a rectory in the Meadows just blocks away from the church site.