It’s happening in California:
A vision of John Thomas Steinbock took an important step toward reality Tuesday with groundbreaking for a new Catholic church in Visalia.
According to project officials, St. Charles Borromeo Church will seat over 3,000 when it opens in spring 2021, making it the largest seating capacity Catholic parish church in the United States. The current largest is the Baltimore Basilica at about 2,000 seats.
The National Shrine in Washington, D.C., seats 10,000.
Steinbock was the fourth bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno and served from 1991 until his death in 2010.
At a 2007 event on the same site, Monsignor Raymond Dreiling, the pastor at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Visalia, said Steinbock told him it was his mission to build a church when Dreiling first came to Visalia about four years prior.
Dreiling merged three Visalia parishes – St. Marys’, Holy Family and St. Thomas – to form Good Shepherd Catholic Parish, a key to making the massive church a reality.
Among other things, the website explains why this church is being built, as part of an effort to consolidate four worship sites:
Given the rapid decline in number of priests in our diocese and in our nation in general, the 11 weekend masses that are celebrated will not be sustainable in the very near future. By having a new large capacity church building would allow for less number of Masses on the weekend which translates to less priest man power.
Another strong factor to look at is the population of the City of Visalia and how it has grown from 15,790 in 1960 when the last Church building was built, which is Holy Family to 124,000 currently. In 2011 we built St. Charles hall with a capacity of 750, in which we immediately started to celebrate mass in to provide some alleviation.
Given the continual population growth and the declining number of Priests, I am sure you will agree that we are in need of a larger church building. These are not the only two reasons for there is yet another very strong faith-based reason for having a new large worship site.
This reason is founded on the fact that: The Celebration of the Mass (Eucharistic Celebration) is meant to bring the community around the Eucharist. One community, one family, one Body around the altar of God; centered around Christ in His Body and Blood. Currently we have a total of 13 weekend Eucharistic Celebrations at our four sites. Under the consolidation of all four sites we are now The Good Shepherd Catholic Parish. In an effort to bring unity as one Catholic parish centered on the Eucharistic Celebration; a new Church building will provide us with one central site of worship. This new build has a target capacity of 3,000. This capacity will not only accommodate our current number of faithful assisting Mass, but it also allows for future growth.
Having said all these facts, we have been meeting with an Architect, for well over a year, who has designed a new church building with a 3,000 capacity. We strongly feel that a capacity of current hard costs, which simply means cost for the building and not the art work or stain glass windows, are at $250 per sq.ft. To accommodate a 3,00 seating capacity an estimated 36,000 sq ft building is needed. This translates to a cost of nearly $16 million for building alone construction cost.
For the groundbreaking, watch the video below from the Fresno Bee.