Steamboat Springs The parish of Holy Name Catholic Church in downtown Steamboat Springs has begun a capital campaign to help fund a major addition and remodel to the church. The brick building where worshippers gather today was dedicated on Christmas Eve, 1965.
Father Ernest Bayer said the construction project would double the seating to 536 in the nave, or primary chapel, with another 50-plus in the balcony. It would also result in a dramatic new look for the church, which occupies half of a city block on the north side of the 500 block of Oak Street.
Phase one of the church expansion has a budget of about $5 million. Consultants contracted by the church estimate local parish members may be able to raise about $2 million of that amount. The balance would be sought from outside the local parish.
Father Bayer, who is the pastor of Holy Name, said the new building would meet both practical and spiritual needs. One of the functions of the church building itself is to draw parish members into union with God.
"The building expresses what we believe," he said. "A church building can inspire a sense of awe, wonder and beauty. There is a lot of beauty in this valley that God created."
Holy Name's plans to expand the church have been approved by the Archbishop of Denver, Rev. Charles J. Chaput, Bayer said.
"Archbishop Chaput asked us to build a church for the next 100 years," Bayer said. "He doesn't want the next pastor to have to come back and ask to build an addition."
The project has not entered the City of Steamboat Springs planning process.
Plans for the entire, three-phased expansion include a new nave and a new day chapel. The expansion will extend westward from the existing church building into the current parking lot and an adjacent lot owned by the Denver Archdiocese.
Pending approval, portion of the current nave will be remodeled to accommodate expanded offices for church staff.
The narthex, or lobby, will be greatly expanded - enough to allow people to congregate and greet one another. The narthex also will act as the center of the church complex, with signage that makes it easier to find the different departments of the church. There will be a reception, gift shop and library.
The current preschool will be preserved, with a second playground and new exterior matching the main building. The current church office building will be remodeled to create a separate place of worship for young adults, along with a teen center.
The need for the expansion is significantly driven by the increasing numbers of second homeowners and vacationers who worship at Holy Name. There is a spirit of hospitality ingrained in Catholics, Bayer said, and if visitors are invited to the church for Christmas mass, it's a shame to have to direct them to sit in the basement and watch on television.
"During ski season, nearly half of the people who come to mass are tourists. We feel a need to serve these tourists," Bayer said. "The second homeowners who come for two or three months out of the year get involved in every ministry of our parish."
The expanded Holy Name would have a large, downstairs parish hall with a kitchen and dinner setting for 300. The intent is to host many community gatherings for those within and without the parish, Bayer said.
The development of the Holy Name expansion is being guided by a 20-member committee of parishioners and priests that includes an attorney, a Realtor and contractors.
Committee member Jo Lauter of the Denver Archdiocese owns Holy Name's real estate, and demands that the parish demonstrate both the need for an expansion and the ability to fund it before giving its blessing to the project. The selection of Eidos Architects, which already has a track record with the archdiocese, and of the Cosgriff Company to do the feasibility study, involved many meetings.
Lauter said there has not been unanimity among parishioners regarding the expansion plans. There are those who feel it is too grand, she acknowledged.
"The most important thing about the Catholic church and its material appearance is that it's built to honor our Lord," Lauter said.
Bayer said Catholics are devoted to helping the poor. At the same time, a church building that is spiritually uplifting can serve to attract people to God and motivate them to go out into the world to carry out the mission of the church, he said. A beautiful church building, he said, plays a role in that mission.
"Here's where we get nourishment and become inspired to help bring the values of God's kingdom to the community in which we live," he said.
The ceiling above the sanctuary will be the tallest part of the building.
"We want to draw people's attention heavenward, so they have a sense of worship," Bayer said. "The sanctuary is trying to capture something eternal."