Most Holy Trinity Church is bursting at the seams, having outgrown the temporary worship space on the Highway 190 Service Road in Covington it has called home for almost six years.
But, in the coming months, Most Holy Trinity parishioners will see progress on a new church site to be built on 365 acres owned by the Archdiocese of New Orleans, off Judge Tanner Road in Mandeville.
In preparation for the project, the Catholic parish kicked off a capital campaign Aug. 24-25 that will last through October. The goal: $4 million in the first of four phases. All four phases are currently projected to cost $19 million.
“People will make a four-year commitment,” Father Rodney Bourg, founding pastor, said. “The archbishop is excited to get this project started. … This project is going to get done.”
Four weeks before the campaign kickoff, Father Bourg polled the congregation to gauge support for the project. He found an overwhelming 92 percent in favor.
Having pastored several parishes, Father Bourg knew the importance of collaboration on an undertaking as big as building a new church campus. During Advent last year, he prepared interested parishioners in advance by introducing a four-week program called “Built of Living Stones,” formulated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
He also used material from the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.
Those who attended learned the significance of “church” as both a building and as its people. Parishioners also visited four parishes with different church configurations and interiors (cruciform, fan-shaped with long pews, fan-shaped with theater seating and more modern) and began narrowing down what they wanted with architects Fauntleroy, Latham, Weldon, Barre Architects.
“What it boiled down to was people wanted a modern building with a traditional feel,” Father Bourg said.
“I told them they could design where they sit, and I would design where I sit,” Father Bourg chuckled.
Of the 365 acres, approximately 25 percent is pristine wetlands that can’t be developed. The parish plans to use about 8 1/2 acres on which to build a 900-seat, handicapped-accessible church with a 120-seat day chapel. The rectory will come later, unless the campaign exceeds its goal, Father Bourg said.
The church is central in the plans, with an open-air plaza in front flanked by a pastoral life center and family life center on either side. The day chapel is enclosed by glass that can be opened for overflow Mass seating and closed for daily Masses. The baptismal font is in the sanctuary, and there is space for future expansion.
“One of the things we are doing differently than in other churches (is that) our baptismal font is the kind you step in,” Father Bourg said, but its design is not overtly noticeable.
Once the archdiocesan Finance Council signs off on the plans, the parish’s project committees will make final decisions. Construction of the buildings should start at the beginning of 2013, Father Bourg said.
Cooperated with parish
The plans for a new parish in St. Tammany had been discussed in the archdiocese for more than 20 years. It had been one of Archbishop Philip Hannan’s dreams, considering the archdiocese had owned a large portion – 227 acres – of the 365-acre tract since 1902. The original tract was donated by Benedictine Father Canon Hyacinth Claude Mignot, and the rest was acquired over the years with plans to eventually develop a cemetery and other projects. A shortage of priests, though, kept the project on the back burner.
But by 2005 when Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Old Mandeville was approaching 5,000 families, the need for a new parish on the northshore was apparent.
“We were established to take the pressure off of Our Lady of the Lake,” Father Bourg said.
Hurricane Katrina delayed the official opening of Most Holy Trinity until June 2006. Mass was first celebrated at Rouquette Lodge before the parish moved to its current, temporary space on Christmas Eve 2006.
As the permanent site was being developed, Most Holy Trinity has worked closely with St. Tammany Parish government, Father Bourg said. Ideas were initially presented to parish government to develop the entire 365-acre tract, but traffic and drainage concerns nixed those plans.
While the church parish looked into other locations, in the end, the original site in Mandeville was deemed most logical.
“Since we weren’t going to do the full development but just the church, the parish decided it was more acceptable as a site,” Father Bourg said. A portion of the wetlands on the site was donated to St. Tammany Parish for drainage. Both entities worked together to develop the extension of Judge Tanner Drive to connect to new Holy Trinity site and to construct a traffic circle to ease traffic congestion.
Father Bourg is looking forward to the new church site.
“We’re going to have space to have a lot more activities in the parish and many more organizations and ministries,” Father Bourg said. “We will be able to expand our religious education program immediately. That’s one of our goals, to educate the children. Expanding the youth program is another opportunity along with having organizations and gatherings for families we don’t have the space for now.”
Christine Bordelon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.