By Mary Owen
Saturday, March 26, 5-10 p.m.
St. Paul Catholic Church,
1410 Pine St.
Fresh Dungeness crab dinner;
silent and oral auctions
Tickets, $35 each. 503-508-9900;
Parishioners are getting a little “crabby” over their building program at St. Paul Catholic Church.
The Silverton parish will host its first Crab Feed and Auction fundraiser March 26. Proceeds are for the church’s building program, placed on “slow” because of the recent dip in the economy.
“We have done a great deal of planning and I think we as a parish need to do something, even though raising money at this time is not easy,” said the Rev. William Hammelman, OSB, pastor of the parish.
Church leaders have been long-range planning for about four years, Hammelman said.
“At the time, Silverton was projected to continue to grow a great deal,” Hammelman said. “The economic situation has slowed that growth down, but we know it will pick up again.”
The present St. Paul Church building was constructed in 1947, shortly after the end of World War II, said Jim Little, the local attorney who chairs the fundraiser.
“One of the chapels at U.S. Army Camp Adair, near Corvallis, was disassembled,” Little said. “The materials were hauled to Silverton and reassembled with church members’ volunteer labor.”
Although extra sections enlarged the seating capacity to 327 people, the existing church building remains true to the original “military design,” providing “very limited bathroom facilities, and no place for church members and their guests to assemble before or after church services,” Little said.
“The nearby school building was constructed in 1948, and is similarly outdated,” he added.
Limited restroom facilities, multiple levels and numerous stairways make it inaccessible for the elderly and parishioners with disabilities, Little said.
“The initial idea was to build a one-level parish center to get away from elevators and have a great gathering spot for wedding and funeral receptions as well as a large gathering space for the parish,” Hammelman said.
To meet the immediate needs of the Catholic community, the initial goal to build a new center has been replaced temporarily with carrying out a limited expansion of the existing facility, Hammelman said.
“Everyone needs to see something happening with the physical plant to build enthusiasm for continued spiritual growth,” he said. “We are continuing to meet and look at options for only necessary improvements like adding restrooms and a larger gathering space in front of the building.”
As a part of long-range planning, church officials looked at both pastoral projects and building needs, ending with the goal to build anew, Hammelman said.
“The cost proved too high, so we looked at expanding the church,” he added. “That has also proved too expensive with the present economy.”
Hammelman said church leaders view the building hold as temporary.
“Most likely we will need to build a new church sometime in the future,” he said. “Presently, we have four services on the weekend and are looking to add one more to accommodate the people. The ideal would be to have a new church so we would not need as many services.”
St. Paul has grown in the past few years, a big part of which has been to serve the predominantly-young Hispanic community, Hammelman said.
“We have one service in Spanish and the service is overflowing,” he said. “We will be adding another service in the fall.”
Church service times and information can be found at www.saintpaulsilverton.org.