For the first time since 1955, the Archdiocese of San Antonio is involved in a major capital campaign to prepare for the explosive population growth that is expected in the region during the next few years.
The effort is named "On the Way - ¡Ándale!" Capital Campaign and they have raised more than 40-million of their 60-million dollar goal.
At a festive event Saturday morning, Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller blessed the ground where the area's newest parish will be built near Potranco Road and Rousseau Street, just inside Loop 1604.
The new congregation will be known as Mary Mother of the Church Parish. In addition to a sanctuary for worship, the campus will feature a rectory, a meeting hall, a school, and a sports complex.
Plans were unveiled at the event and they said construction could begin as early as the fall of 2019.
Eventually, the campaign will help establish eight new parish communities over the course of the next decade.
New church communities have been rare. The last parish established locally in the Stone Oak area was introduced 17 years ago.
Officials say The Shrine of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina was dedicated in August 2001.
Clarence Kahlig, who has helped with the campaign, said he is proud that the new congregation will feature a school.
"It's good to see the church expanding with a school as the emphasis," Kahlig said, adding the size of the site is a valuable asset. "It's unusual because this is a fifty-acre plot. Usually, churches are ten to 16 or 17 acres, but the Archbishop has got big thoughts for this project."
Donna Degenhardt attended the blessing ceremony with her extended family.
"We need this church in the worst way. It is so wonderful. We're so excited and we can't wait until it gets built!" Degenhardt said.
Emma Degenhardt added "I think it is a big deal because the school that I go to, there are some Catholics that I know and it's kind of hard to be in an environment that's not a Catholic school because there's a lot of people that are trying to tempt you to do bad things."
Don Meyer is a general chair of the capital campaign with his wife, Carol.
Meyer said his church, Holy Trinity, is one of many bursting at the seams and in need of additional facilities.
"There's a projected 200,000 new Catholics coming in the next ten years. To faithfully serve those parishioners, we will require new parishes, new and expanded schools to educate the youth to give them a faith-based education and renovation and expansion of existing parishes," Meyer said.
Father Larry Christian told the faithful "This area, our Archdiocese, is still as vibrant, as diverse, compassionate, welcoming and rooted in the Christian faith as it was in the days of its humble beginnings....(this) campaign in many ways is about building up the legacy of our founders, and the many people who have worked to establish the spirit of our Archdiocese."
More information about the On the Way - ¡Ándale! Capital Campaign can be found at www.ontheway-andale.org.