Keizertimes/File Photo

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Plans are underway to build a large new church for the St. Edward Catholic faithful.

Parishioners got a glimpse Sunday at plans for the 11,700 square foot proposed facility. And there’s a massive capital campaign to go along with it: The church hopes to garner $5.5 million in pledges by Easter.

“It is ambitious, but we want to keep the monentum going,” said Debbi McCune, who is the capital campaign manager.

The church hopes for a 2013 opening, with groundbreaking by fall in 2012. The new building will be on its current campus. The existing building, which has housed the church’ since it opened, will be renovated into meeting space and classrooms.

“It was always intended to be a gym,” church business manager Bonnie Henny said of the current facility. “We’ve never built a true church building.”

She said the church was spun off of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Salem, when a need was identified for a Catholic church in Keizer. The current building was constructed in anticipation of a school that was never formed. McCune said having a Catholic school in Keizer was not in the cards as of now.

In a time when churches nationwide are losing members, the Catholic faith both locally and nationally is buoyed by an influx of immigrants, particularly Latinos, who are predominately Catholic. Both McCune and Henny said the influx of Latinos into Keizer has boosted both the parishioner rolls and the need for additional space.

“They are out of space in everything they do,” said Henny, who added the church counts about 1,300 families among its congregation. “We have a very active Hispanic ministry (with) one mass a week and about three nights a week of activities.”

With about 220 meetings held on the campus each month, just setting a schedule is a daunting task, McCune said.

“We found our growth was a little bit limited due to space,” McCune said. Led by Father Gary Zerr, the church completed a visioning process in recent years.

They estimate the new church will seat about 600 people for a mass with the ability to add about 170 more seats. The current church can hold about 400.

The Archdiocese of Portland is the most likely financier, and one requirement is that the building be viable for at least 100 years “with minimal repair,” Henny said.

While details of the new building are still uncertain, there are some basic elements that should inspire an airy feel, McCune said, including a meditation garden and lighter features.

Henny said environmentally-friendly aspects like incorporating solar energy are part and parcel of the plan.

“We try to be a green church,” she said.