Growing St. Joe’s finally ready to build parish hall
With a reading from the New Testament and a few vigorous shakes of an aspergillum to sprinkle holy water over the dirt on the corner of White Avenue and Fourth Street, the Rev. Edmundo Valera ushered in a new chapter for St. Joseph Catholic Church.
Valera, trailed by the church choir and parishioners, blessed the land after Mass on Sunday morning.
Construction will begin this week on a parish hall addition that will extend diagonally northeast from the front of the church. The $2.5 to $2.7 million project will add space for events and church functions and is expected to be complete in nine to 12 months, according to Valera.
The city block between White and Grand avenues and Third and Fourth streets has seen many changes since Valera began his work at the church a decade ago this July.
An old parish hall was demolished and a parking lot was procured from U.S. Bank to make way for church expansion.
Valera said he feels blessed that congregants have supported the church’s desire to expand and given whatever they could — often in small installments — to a capital campaign to make construction possible.
“Our parishioners are mostly blue collar, and the economy is still tough but that’s how you build — every little bit helps,” he said.
Valera said the church plans to use the additional space not just for its own needs for its budding congregation but also to accommodate community functions and possibly act as a spot for Election Day voting.
“It’s not just for us, it’s for the community,” Valera said.
Two more phases of construction are planned after the addition is finished: one to install a small chapel and another to build office space for administration and education. No timeline is set for those phases to begin.
Valera said an estimated $15 million is needed to complete all three phases, although that estimate is subject to change.