St. Mary’s Catholic Church is expanding in an effort to accommodate the growing Catholic population in south Chandler as new homes go up.
The Rev. Daniel McBride, pastor at St. Mary’s, said the parish would like to construct a second church just south of the Chandler Municipal Airport between Cooper and Queen Creek roads.
McBride said the location has already been picked out, but the project still needs funding. He said the church hopes that parishioners will help raise the money, which is necessary because of the size of the project.
A committee to raise the required funds has not been organized, but McBride said the parish hopes to have one established by this summer. He said construction will not start until all the money has been raised.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church serves about 4,200 families at 230 W. Galveston St., west of Arizona Avenue.
Jerry Lee, an attendant of the church, said the facility is forced to hold multiple Masses to accommodate the people who worship there daily.
Lee said he joined the church because of its more traditional Catholic Mass, and he likes the reverence and the way things are conducted at St. Mary’s.
Lee, who moved to the area five years ago from Buffalo, N.Y., said he feels strongly about the idea of an expansion because the church struggles to accommodate all of the Catholics already in the area.
Rapid growth near the airport will bring about 3,000 new families to Chandler over the next five to 10 years, and McBride said many of these families will be Catholic.
Besides the issue of overcrowding, McBride said parishioners in many parts of Chandler must travel several miles to celebrate Mass at St. Mary’s.
This has led to the temporary solution of holding Mass at a local school cafeteria. That’s where Lee and his wife have attended Mass for the past three years.
“We are excited to have an actual church to worship in soon,” Lee said.
John Minieri, real estate director of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, said the second church would be part of the St. Mary’s parish, which was founded in 1937 when Chandler was mostly rural.
At least initially, he said pastors at St. Mary’s would lead Mass at both locations.
“The growth is within that parish,” Minieri said. “So they would serve those families.”