St. Stephen’s getting a new home |

St. Stephen’s getting a new home

Members of the St. Stephen’s Catholic parish will break ground at 2 p.m. Saturday for a $4.3 million church that will seat 700 people.

The new church, designed by Glenwood Springs architect Chuck Brenner, will be built on the northwest corner of the parish’s four-plus acres between Hyland Park Drive and Blake Avenue.

It will sit just south of the existing St. Stephen’s School, and across Blake from the Valley View Medical Office Building.

A 147-space parking lot will also be constructed southeast of the church.

The new facility will replace the small stone church at 10th and Grand, built during the difficult years of the Depression with donations from strapped parishioners.

Saturday’s groundbreaking represents a new and expansive era for the church. Presently, St. Stephen’s has 745 registered families in the parish, said Monsignor Cliff McMillan.

“That’s about 2,000 souls,” he said.

St. Stephen’s seats about 210 worshippers. Six Masses are said each weekend to accommodate the parishioners.

Plans call for the new church nave to hold 700 worshippers. The choir loft will seat another 200.

In a separate level below the sanctuary will be space for 12 offices, a kitchen and a parish hall. The hall will double as a gymnasium that will hold 750 for a sit-down dinner or 400 spectators at an athletic event.

While the idea for a new church actually started in the early 1960s when the school property was purchased, the actual fund-raising drive was initiated in 1993 by Monsignor Tom Bradtke.

In 1996, McMillan, Bradtke’s replacement, was assigned to the parish by then-Denver-Archbishop Francis Stafford with the express purpose of building a new church.

Fund-raising efforts have been better than expected, McMillan said.

“Professional fund-raisers say you’re doing well if you raise three times your annual collection. We raised six times,” McMillan said.

The first phase of the project will include construction of the church proper and the parking lot for a cost of $3.4 million, McMillan said. Phase II will finish and equip the lower level at a cost of about $200,000.

There are no plans to remodel the school, but students will use the new church to hear Mass and, once Phase II is complete, to use the gymnasium.

The school, which was opened in 1982, now has 70 students enrolled.

St. Stephens’ Church on Grand Avenue was listed for sale in July, said McMillan.

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