By Kedrik Hamblin
The members of St. Francis of Assisi are still awaiting the addition to their building in Orem. The first phase of the building, which includes a gymnasium and offices, was completed in 2001. The next addition will be the actual church and many are excited for it.
Members have been meeting for Mass in the gymnasium. Beth George, a member who volunteers at the church, said the gym is filled with folding chairs. It was designed to hold 800, she said, but they try to fit 1,200 every week.
Amanda Lowe, a neighbor, has seen for herself the limited space.
“It gets a little crowded,” she said. “I don”t know how they all fit in there. I think the church is great – just needs more space for people.”
“For the Spanish Masses there is standing room only,” said Juliana Boerio-Goates, a member of the church and professor at BYU.
Along with more space, the members need something more sacred. It”s hard for those who get married or baptized there.
“It”s still a gym,” Boerio-Goates said. “You do what you can to evoke more of an area of sacred space. You walk up and still see the basketball lines.”
Boerio-Goates is eager for the church to be built. “? think it will provide a sacred space for us,” she said. “It will free up space that was designed to be a gym and a social hall. It”s really hard to schedule an activity.”
Since the gym is set up for Mass, the church hasn”t had a basketball game in five years.
Another dilemma is the parking. On Saturday and Sunday, cars fill up the parking lot and line the streets. Lowe has seen this problem as well. On occasion, she has seen cars block her driveway.
“It would be nice if they would do something about it,” she said.
There is no doubt that the church addition will help members and neighbors but when it will happen is debatable.
“Oh, I”m excited,” Boerio-Goates said. “I”m not willing to get really, really excited.”
This is the third time she has been on a building committee and she knows that things take time. The major dilemma, she said, is the money. “Our church requires that you have 60 percent before you can dig the first hole,” she said.
The church is still trying to sell the land where the old church was located on 500 West in Provo. “There have been some nibbles,” she said. However, she said if the land sold right now, the church wouldn”t get the full value. “What we build depends on how much money we have. I”d rather see us wait a year or so.”
There have been offers, but the people get nervous, said Father Dave Bittmenn. “The neighbors at the old site don”t want us to sell the old land,” he said. As the land is a large lot, the neighbors want something that will fit better into the neighborhood than a large building or facility.
Boerio-Goates said one solution might be to sell the land in parcels rather than as a whole but still wants things to happen soon. “I hope it will go as quickly as possible,” she said.