This is an architectural rendering of the floor plan for the planned Corpus Christi Church.

PHOTO SUPPLIED

This is an architectural rendering of the floor plan for the planned Corpus Christi Church.

October 8, 2012
CHRIS MILLER
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Southeast Edmonton's spiraling population makes another Catholic church in the area not only a hope, but a necessity.

And while Corpus Christi Parish hopes to begin construction on its $16-million church next year, it needs to round up at least $8 million in pledges before that can happen.

The Edmonton Archdiocese will fund the other half, with the stipulation that the parish pay the money back over time. Parish-wide fundraising began last year.

Since 2004, parishioners have been attending Mass at Father Michael Troy School, 3630-23 St. Mass is 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. every Sunday. Masses were also held at Holy Family School until 2011.

On Sept. 25, about 40 people attended an information evening at St. Theresa Church where Father Jim Corrigan, pastor of both Corpus Christi and St. Theresa, laid out the vision and the financial needs of the project.

"The purpose of the evening? If we have the nerve to ask for your prayers and your resources, we believe it's only fair that we show you where we've been, where we're going, and how we intend on raising the funds to do so," Corrigan explained.

CURRENT TALLY

Current pledges from St. Theresa's parishioners total $2.75 million, and St. John the Evangelist Parish has donated $500,000. Other parishioners have been donating on a weekly basis for about 18 months. As of Sept. 21, the building fund totaled in excess of $4.4 million.

Parishes across the archdiocese as well as the Catholic Women's League, Knights of Columbus and Edmonton Catholic Schools have been asked to make Corpus Christi one of their philanthropic projects.

The 1,500-seat church will be about the same size as St. Theresa Church. It will be fan-shaped, similar to St. Theresa's, St. Charles and Holy Trinity churches. Both the roofline and ceiling will have a traditional cruciform shape, open to below.

Another special feature will be the double-sided tabernacle, allowing it to be the heart of the church and remain in view from all areas. The Blessed Sacrament chapel will be behind the altar with the tabernacle uniting the two spaces. The goal is to have the option for 24-hour adoration in the chapel.

The rendering of the proposed Corpus Christi Church includes a double sided tabernacle, allowing it to be at the heart of the church.

PHOTO SUPPLIED

The rendering of the proposed Corpus Christi Church includes a double sided tabernacle, allowing it to be at the heart of the church.

The building will also have a hall to accommodate over 250 guests for banquets, a full commercial kitchen, an office area for administration, a gathering space connecting the entrance to all three areas, and several meeting rooms.

ANNUAL OUTDOOR MASS

Land for the new church was purchased in 2001 and in 2006, Archbishop Thomas Collins named the parish Corpus Christi around the same time as the first outdoor Mass on the church site at 3307-28A Ave. The outdoor Mass has become an annual event.

In 2007, a joint rectory for the two parishes was built in the nearby Meadows neighbourhood.

After Archbishop Richard Smith granted permission to move forward with the project in 2009, HFKS Architects was selected to build the church.

Sergio Poles, with HFKS Architects, said the firm has worked with the archdiocese on such church ventures as St. Anthony's in Lloydminster and renovations to St. Joseph's Basilica.

Poles is excited with how the Corpus Christi project is progressing.

"We are going to have a building that meets all of your needs, is very functional, and doesn't have too much fat in it so it works properly, and doesn't have too much extra cost," he said.

Corrigan has no doubt that the project will be successful because the Holy Spirit is guiding the process. Since it is God's church, he will grant the grace and resources to succeed.

$5,000 IN FIVE YEARS

"What do I ask of you and your parishes? Please consider making a pledge over a period of years to building Corpus Christi," said Corrigan, noting that even donations of $20 a week add up fast, to more than $5,000 in five years.

He acknowledged that other parishes have debts, bills to pay and projects of their own. Therefore, he is thankful for whatever contributions are given.

Wayne Provencal, financial administrator for the archdiocese, noted that this project has been a top archdiocesan priority for years.

"One huge difference from our past projects is that the cost of constructing new churches has increased so much," Provencal said.

The last large church built – Holy Trinity in Spruce Grove – was built 10 years ago for about $4.5 million, he said.

A BIG HILL TO CLIMB

Archbishop Joseph MacNeil was on the ground floor over 30 years ago when construction got underway for St. Theresa's Church.

MacNeil offered words of encouragement for the financing and construction of Corpus Christi Church, which he called "a big hill to climb." Parishioners of the Edmonton Archdiocese help one another, and that will make this goal of a new church attainable, he said.

"You are not alone in this. This project can be completed. This project which seems so huge is something that's manageable because God is on your side," said MacNeil.