Holy Name Catholic Church has raised $5.5 million for the expansion of its church, depicted in this rendering.

Holy Name Catholic Church / Courtesy

Holy Name Catholic Church has raised $5.5 million for the expansion of its church, depicted in this rendering.

Holy Name Catholic Church in Steamboat nears fundraising goal

Expansion could start as early as spring

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— With the help of a $1 million pledge from one of its parishioners, Holy Name Catholic Church officials announced this week that the church has raised more than 90 percent of the $6 million needed to double the worship capacity of the church.

Father Ernest Bayer said Wednesday that the parishioners, who are from Texas and are second-home owners in Steamboat, wish to remain anonymous. They pledged in September to match donations to the capital campaign of as much as $1 million.

Bayer said the capital campaign to expand the church has raised about $5.5 million since 2008 and $500,000 since the $1 million match challenge was introduced.

“It was the miracle we were praying for,” Bayer said about the pledge.

Bayer said that although it has taken longer to reach the latest fundraising goal than he anticipated when the campaign launched three years ago, he’s pleased with the progress.

“At first, I thought we would get it all pledged in a year or two, but then the recession hit, and we were discouraged,” he said. “But we stayed focused and kept our eyes on the goal as we figured in God’s time this would happen. It’s definitely in grasp now.”

Sitting in the pews of the church Thursday morning, Bayer said ground could be broken alongside the church’s existing campus as early as spring, with more pews and space open to the public by Christmas 2013.

More space to worship

Plans for the 15,382-square-foot expansion to the church at Sixth and Oak streets were drawn in 2008 and approved by the Steamboat Springs City Council in 2009.

Bayer and parishioners said the church that was dedicated Christmas Eve of 1965 provides adequate room for Steamboat residents to worship but needs more room to accommodate visitors.

“When it gets busy, it’s rough,” said Byron Christensen, a parishioner who served on the committee that designed the proposed church addition. “People see how crowded it is or that they have to watch Mass on a TV (in the basement), and they go right back out the door. It crushes you.”

Christensen said the need for more worship space is especially apparent during many of Holy Name’s Christmas Masses, which often end up being standing-room-only. The addition to the church will increase capacity from 300 to 600.

Bayer said that support for the expansion from the Holy Name community has not been unanimous but that he thinks most recognize the need.

“A lot of people really like it and see the need and see that it is a beautiful design,” he said. “And some people tell me they like the church the way it is and don’t want it to expand. But that’s true in every church expansion. I’m convinced we will grow into it because once we get out of the recession, visitors will keep coming as the city grows.”

Fundraisers and pavers

Bayer said the church has secured the funding mostly through donations from parishioners, including the sizable pledge it received in September.

“We sent mailings out to everyone in our database and wherever we could get an address,” Bayer said.

He added they also have seen success with the sale of nearly 50 pavers, inscribed with memorials and in one case, the brand of a Yampa Valley ranch, that will line the walkway surrounding the church.

Meanwhile, Bayer and church staff continue to look forward to the day when ground can be broken.

“This new addition really will be a community service because many visitors come to Steamboat,” Bayer said. “For them to be able to come into church and worship adds a spiritual touch to their vacation.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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