Not in one corner of Texas, where this huge new church is opening. Details:
An average of 1,200 people have packed weekend Masses at St. Jerome Catholic Church in recent years, testing the modest structure completed 35 years ago.
At the time, it was suitable for this rural congregation southeast of San Antonio. With 3,700 square feet, it is boxy with a flat roof and narrow stained-glass windows.
The pews are straight and provide a single aisle and space for 340 people. Down the lone hallway is a cozy cry-room next to single-unit, his and her bathrooms.
This Sunday, the parish will celebrate its new, 20,000-square-foot church.
Made of limestone brick walls, it has a towering, wooden ceiling with skylights above a spacious sanctuary and pews for 800 people. The foyer, bathrooms, day chapel and cry room combined rival the entire old church.
The new church easily will hold the 700-plus people who came out for last year’s Christmas Eve Mass.
“I believe many people have not come here because there is no room for them,” said Father John Flanagan, church pastor since 2001. “No one wants to have to stand during a service.”And while functional, the new church has as many aesthetic features as its $3.6 million price tag would cover.
Designed by Morkovsky and Associates it has arches in the entrance and above interior windows. It has new statues from Italy of a crucifix, Joseph and Mary.
It is a crowning achievement for a parish that draws mostly families who work in agricultural and industrial jobs nearby.