By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

DOWNINGTOWN – St. Joseph Parish in Downingtown, Chester County, has launched a $7.2 million capital campaign to build a new church to meet the needs of the burgeoning number of registered Catholics there. Archdiocesan officials predict the number of parishioners will grow 27 percent by 2030.

The parish, founded in 1851, has nearly 14,000 parishioners, or 4,200 families, on its roster today. The current church was built in 1972 when the parish had 1,100 registered families.

“We’re trying to be responsible and plan for future generations, as was planned for the present generation,” said Msgr. William J. Lynn, the pastor.

Although a date has yet to be determined, the pastor hopes for a groundbreaking ceremony in the spring of 2011 on the parish’s present grounds at 460 Manor Ave.

Amid concerns about the challenging economic climate, the parish prayed before a conclusion was made to proceed with the building plans. A committee that had been studying the project for the past two years determined the costs to renovate and expand the present church were comparable to building a new structure. As a result, the finance and parish councils recommended to build new.

Nearly $3 million has already been pledged to the campaign, which is being conducted as a combined campaign with the archdiocesan capital and endowment endeavor, “Heritage of Faith, Vision of Hope.”

“In conjunction with the archdiocesan campaign, it was a good opportunity for us to move forward,” said the pastor. “We realize we’re part of a larger Church and we want to contribute to the diocese as we can also.”

Msgr. Lynn commended his voluntary campaign committee members who have been knocking on doors and scheduling one-on-one meetings with fellow parishioners.

The camaraderie that has blossomed among parishioners through the process of building a new church has, at the same time, built up the parish, he added.

“The parishioners have been very responsive,” Msgr. Lynn said. “Many have made great sacrificial gifts to the campaign. It says a lot about their commitment to the Catholic faith and to their parish.”

Among the younger contributors is 9-year-old Adam Morys, a third-grader at St. Joseph School. Last year, Adam donated $100 from gifts he received for his first holy Communion.

“I donated the money because it costs a lot of money to build a new church,” he said. “I think it’s really important that we get a new church because the one we have right now is small, so not that much people can sit in the pews. Some people have to stand.”

At the same time, the boy contributed $50 of his Communion money to the parish’s poor box.

Adam’s father Marian and mother Jolanta are among the many parishioners assisting with the campaign, Marian in an official capacity as a committee member.

Adam appreciates the fact that he, too, is able to help his parish. “I feel really happy and useful,” he said.

The new church will be constructed of stone and wood, traditional in design, cruciform in shape, seating 1,200 with allowances for expansion as necessary.

A daily Mass chapel with a projected capacity of 175 will permit more efficient utility usage.

Elements from the present church will be incorporated where possible and appropriate. Eight stained glass windows from the now-suppressed Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in West Philadelphia will grace the main church.

The new church will also feature more storage space and increased parking.

A larger narthex, or gathering space, will provide parishioners the opportunity to converse without disturbing those who pray in the church nave before and after Mass.

“We want to build a church that when people walk in, they realize immediately they’re in the presence of God, especially in Jesus Christ in the Eucharist,” Msgr. Lynn said.

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CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or

Combined campaigns are part of larger capital campaign

The Church of Philadelphia is conducting a $200 million capital and endowment campaign, “Heritage of Faith, Vision of Hope,” to support the charitable, educational and pastoral needs of the Archdiocese as it begins its third century as a diocese.

The campaign, which supports all aspects of the local Church, includes a parish phase which consists either of a standard campaign or a combined campaign, the latter of which addresses archdiocesan needs as well as a parish’s extraordinary local needs.

All 267 parishes of the Archdiocese participate in “Heritage of Faith, Vision of Hope” on a track schedule in four-month increments. The campaign began in 2008 with a pilot phase of 12 parishes. The second tier of the fourth and final track of parishes concludes its work at the end of this year.

St. Joseph Parish in Downingtown is one of 13 parishes conducting a combined campaign. An additional six parishes are anticipated to conduct a combined campaign