Growth in a time of turmoil: Truckee Catholic church plans new place of worship |

Growth in a time of turmoil: Truckee Catholic church plans new place of worship

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunFather Stanley Poltorak greets parishioners after the Saturday night Mass at the Assumption Catholic Church in Truckee.

In the midst of a demographic transformation within the Roman Catholic community nationwide, parishioners from Truckees Assumption Catholic Church are gearing up for their geographic change.While nationwide Catholicism has struggled with a dearth of new priests, overcome an abuse scandal still in fresh in the minds of parishioners and adapt to an increasingly Latino membership in Truckee the church is growing.Members of the congregation are coming close to completing the capital campaign project to raise an estimated $2 million for a new place of worship. Last fall, campaign coordinators began asking parishioners to consider making a donation, and within eight weeks, the project raised $1 million. Since then, the group has received another $800,000 from local residents and out-of-town members of the parish, leaving them just $200,000 short of their final goal of $2 million, said Father Stanley Poltorak, Assumption Catholic Churchs pastor. In August 2006, East West Partners, owners of the Grays Crossing development, donated eight acres of land across from Alder Creek Middle School to the church, which is currently located on E Street. The agreement gave the parish three years to raise funds for the new church, and five years to begin construction.I saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Poltorak said. All of the pieces came together so we have to use that to the advantage of the mission of the church.The new place of worship will cost nearly $5.7 million, and will be approximately 9,000 square feet. It is designed to seat an estimated 500 parishioners more than triple what the current church holds, Poltorak said.Despite reports of shrinking attendance nationwide among Americans who were raised Catholic, Poltorak said membership at Truckees Assumption Parish has remained steady throughout the years thanks to the regions fluctuating population.Our situation in Truckee is different by comparison because we have so many second homeowners and visitors who attend Mass, Poltorak said. However, the Polish-born priest said on a local level, he has noticed the demographic shift being echoed across the country where Latinos are filling in the empty pew spaces. But Poltorak said these Hispanic Catholics arent just gathering at his Spanish-language Mass in Kings Beach every Sunday, they are attending English sermons in Truckee too, creating the need for a larger church to accommodate the growing congregation. Of the nearly 150 baptisms Poltorak performed this year, he said approximately 130 of the were of Hispanic origin another clear-cut sign of the demographic shift and also an indication of the growing young parish. Meanwhile, with $1.8 million raised, Poltorak said he is optimistic the campaign will be completed by early summer when more second homeowners return to the area. We are a very small parish, but people have shown a tremendous amount of generosity, Poltorak said. Aside from an expanding facility, Poltorak said he hopes to see more priests come out of the Sacramento Diocese so he can add a priest, preferably bilingual, to help serve the Truckee-Tahoe area. They are well aware, Poltorak said, with a smile, of his requests to the pastoral center. When Poltorak joined the church in 1995, he contended that it was time for a new facility. The current structure was built in 1890, but was moved in 1907, and again in 1949. Since initiating a building fund in 1995, Poltorak said he has raised an additional $1 million to finance the project.Poltorak is not the only one who believes it is time to build a new church. In an August poll, nearly 90 percent of parishioners agreed it was time for a new place of worship, said campaign director Armando Balbuena in a past interview with the Sun.Under the agreement with East West, the church still has a little over one year to complete financing, and just over three years to begin construction. Its a way to provide for the future, Poltorak said. I wanted to make it happen, and I hope to see it through.SIDEBAR – BY THE NUMBERS$5.7 million: Total cost of new church$1 million: Amount raised since 1995 from building fund$1.8 million: Amount raised through the capital campaign$2.5 million: Estimated value of current church land$200,000: Remaining amount parishioners want to raise9,000: Estimated square footage of new parish500: Potential seats in new church150: Size of congregation current church holds

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