DOWNINGTOWN – St. Joseph Roman Catholic Parish in Downingtown, Chester County, broke ground for a new church March 18 at the site of the new church, 460 Manor Ave. in Downingtown following the noon Mass which was celebrated by Archbishop Charles Chaput. A reception followed the groundbreaking ceremony.

To accommodate future growth, the parish began planning for expansion in 2007 and kicked off a campaign “Cherishing our Past ~ Embracing the Future” to raise funds for this project in February 2010. The parish has received pledges totaling approximately $5.2 million of its fundraising goal of $6 million. The project is estimated to cost $9.6 million.

“This is a truly exciting and blessed time for our parish,” said the Msgr. Joseph McLoone, the parish’s parochial administrator. “When we break ground and begin construction, it will be a sure sign of our love and dedication to this strong and vibrant parish, 160 years old but still young and growing. Most importantly, it will be a sign that we put our faith and hope in Jesus Christ.”

The new church, which will be built alongside the current one (keeping the church in use until the day the new open opens), will include seating for 1,200 people, a larger narthex, a daily Mass chapel, meeting rooms, adequate parking, and transepts to allow for future expansion. Construction is slated to be completed by May 2013.

St. Joseph, the second-largest parish in the Archdiocese, has more than 4,400 families and more than 14,000 parishioners. Since the capital campaign kicked off in February 2010, more than 400 families (more than 1,200 people) have joined the parish.

St. Joseph Parish was founded in 1851; its first church was built in 1852 on Bradford Avenue in the Johnsontown area of Downingtown.