Growing Church Community

St. Paul's new church accommodates expanding number of parishoners

Posted: Friday, May 24, 2002

Father Tony Dummer is glad people do not have to stand outside St. Paul's Catholic Church anymore during mass.

To accommodate the growing number of parishioners, St. Paul's has constructed a new church at the corner of Egan Drive and Mendenhall Loop Road to replace the current structure there. Two priests will be ordained in the new building May 31 and a dedication mass June 2 will celebrate its opening.

"I think it's absolutely gorgeous," said Sandy Nolan, St. Paul's administrative assistant. "It's bright and warm; the outside is a little bit different design, but I like it."

Because of the large number of parishioners and the small dimensions of the old building, the church has been holding three masses on Sundays; two in English and one in Spanish. With the new building in commission, just two masses will be held each week.

Dummer said the interior of the structure is almost completed and there is a lot of sawdust around, but the new church should be ready for the May 31 ordinations of Thomas Weise and Edmund Penisten, who have been studying for the Juneau diocese at Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon.

The June 2 mass will begin in the old church, and involve rituals for its decommissioning, Dummer said. The congregation will then process to the new church for its dedication.

"We've got to let (the old church) go," Dummer said. "We'll do a lot of remembering. There have been many incidences and special occurrences within the church. We'll thank God for them."

The church has many new features such as a new immersion pool built into the floor for baptism. Dummer is not sure what will become of the old structure, but believes it will serve as a youth center and classroom.

"It's a good area for a youth center," Dummer said. " We've got to have something for them."

The June 2 dedication mass will begin at 10 a.m. and a potluck dinner and entertainment will follow.

"The old church has served this parish well," Dummer said. "It will be difficult to let go."

Emily Wescott can be reached at

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