TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – For church members of The Society of St. Pius in St. Mary’s, Sunday was decades in the making.
They got to celebrate the ground breaking of what will be their church’s new home, but it’s been a long rebuilding process that began when a fire tore down the original church.
The original Immaculata church used to be on the campus of St. Mary’s, but a fire burned it down 40 years ago.
Now, they’re building a new church thanks to donations from people around the world.
“This is our largest community and it being sort of the largest church that the society has ever built, this is quite a day of happiness for not only us here in St. Mary’s, but for the whole order,” Fr. Patrick Rutledge said.
They aren’t just replacing the old church. Rutledge said the one they’re building will be the biggest catholic church in the state.
The church will be able to hold a little over 1,500 people, have a statue of Mary on top, and will cost around $30 million to build.
Church member, James Vogel, said the new church is less about its exterior and more about what the Mother Mary symbolizes in the catholic faith.
He also said it’s a much needed source of positivity with everything going on right now in the country.
“Living in a town named after her and building a church named after her, especially in 2020, we need her help, we need hope,” Vogel said.
At Sunday’s ground breaking, members of the church got to bless the site and have mass.
Fr. Rutledge said it was a moment for them to reflect on everything it has taken to get to this day.
“With all of the different proposing of plans and fundraising over the decades, to finally see something happening and see the ground breaking, is again, a breathe of fresh air for all the people here,” Fr. Rutledge said. “That’s why they’re taking a little bit of dirt and keeping it as a keepsake.”
So far, donations from people across the world have raised $26.5 million of the $30 million they need to build it.
They expect the construction to be finished in 2022.
For more on the church, click here.