CALIFORNIA AVE — Is there a Patron Saint of Parking?
If so, he’s heard the prayers of St. Monica Catholic Community, which will unveil its $28 million expansion project that includes a much-needed 175-space parking garage on Sunday.
The project, which was conjured up about 10 years ago when the church’s membership increased rapidly, also includes three buildings, 100,000 square feet of space, a community center, pavilion, a new coffee shop, and a patio.
Dawna Houston, director of communications, said that the increased space will be noticed this month at the community’s 34th annual Thanksgiving dinner, which serves 1,000 homeless people every year.
“This new facility is definitely going to help alleviate what has been quite an orchestration to make it happen on that day,” she said, laughing. “People would just be tucked away in different places to cut turkeys and every possible space that was available.”
Houston described a parish that was “bursting at the seams” as community members opened up their garages to store church items.
The previous campus did not have space to accommodate wedding or funeral receptions.
“Let me tell you, there are number of brides who have been waiting for the facility to be built so they can have their reception here,” she said. “It’s so much less expensive to go here rather than somewhere else. And it’s very convenient. You come out of the church and you’re right here. It is quite a beautiful facility.”
The first part of the building project, a new gymnasium, was completed in December 2011. The final stage of the project, a new school yard and renovations to the basement of the gym, is expected to be done next summer.
One of the three buildings to open on Sunday will provide classrooms and an after-school space for St. Monica Catholic Elementary School.
Another building, a community center, features 17,600 square feet of assembly and meeting space, which is available for rent to the general public. Also in the community center is a chapel, the coffee shop called Holy Grounds, and a ministry for the local homeless community.
Below the community center is the parking garage, which will free up parking on the parish’s Seventh Street lot for neighbors, Houston said.
Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson said that the new parking was something he was looking most forward to.
He said the buildings are not about future growth, but for better serving the current community of more than 8,000 households.
“This is the day we have all been waiting for,” he said. “God has graced our parish with the faithful whose numbers have increased, challenging our ability to welcome and serve them properly. These great facilities will allow us to answer the Gospel challenge in new and exciting ways as we form loving disciples who will transform the world.”
A Mass and dedication of the new facilities at 725 California Ave. will take place at 1:15 p.m. on Sunday. Following the Mass, there will be tours, jazz and a food festival.