By Mina Williams Special to The Herald
EDMONDS — The sweeping views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains from the main reception room are just the eye candy of Holy Rosary Catholic Church’s new pastoral center.
The soul of the structure is firmly rooted in the people and programs that the new building supports.
“It’s a nice spot for a meeting or a dinner,” said the Rev. Kenneth Haydock. “Looking out over Puget Sound with the sun setting. What could be better?”
The new pastoral center is a 21,000-square-foot facility with offices, meeting space and storage for Holy Rosary. The center at 630 Seventh Ave. N. replaces the offices for the church, which had been in Holy Rosary School at a different part of the campus.
The center features a flexible reception room that can seat 350 people and be subdivided into five separate rooms, each with access to the newly outfitted kitchen.
Holy Rosary is making rooms in the pastoral center available for parishioners and nonprofits to rent when not previously scheduled with parish activities.
“We are here to serve the community,” Haydock said. “The community needs gathering spaces to celebrate and places to explore issues and causes. That is why we have made the space available to the community. So people can come together.”
The community responded favorably to the center Thursday during an open reception.
“It’s a fabulous meeting place for the people of Edmonds,” said John Hjort, past president of the Edmonds Salmon Chapter of Trout Unlimited. “I can just see all sorts of meetings and banquets in this space.”
Gary McConaghy, also a past president of the local Trout Unlimited chapter, agreed.
“This is a wonderful addition to the community,” he said. “There is no better meeting spot in the whole city. There is plenty of parking and a beautiful view.”
Both men are Edmonds residents and neither are Holy Rosary parishioners.
With 5,000 parishioners and more than 80 different associations and activities that the Edmonds parish supports, the former footprint of offices, reception areas, meeting rooms and storage was burgeoning beyond the school’s walls.
Holy Rosary hosts 150 receptions a year. When the former hall was needed during the week, students at the parish school ate lunch at their desks.
“It is not uncommon for 500 people to attend a funeral reception,” Haydock said.
Office space was lacking in the former area. There wasn’t a youth room. The food bank was overcrowded. The parish kitchen needed an overhaul.
The extra elbow room the new space affords was particularly appreciated in late March as volunteers filled 800 Easter baskets to be distributed to local children.
Now the parish nursing program has private space for nurses to meet with seniors who have health-related questions. The food bank is positioned so that vehicles can drive right up to the door to unload. The new youth room sports leather couches. Books are being moved into the parish’s new library. The clothing bank has thoughtful counters for folding and floor space for clothes racks.
“We will finally be able to have a funeral reception and feed the kids lunch at the same time,” Haydock said.
Safety was another concern that moved the congregation to a newly constructed building, more than 2.5 times larger than its old building.
The former 8,000-square-foot structure, built as a convent in 1962, had been damaged in earthquakes. Water leaks added to its issues.
A time capsule is being installed at the west entrance of the new building. Messages from city officials, the Archdiocese of Seattle along with items from the parish are being put behind a marble frontal. The time capsule is slated to be opened in 50 years.
In 1997, the parish developed a master plan to address Holy Rosary’s needs into the future. It was determined that the school would be the first concern, Haydock said.
“Then the church started falling apart due to water and wind,” he said. “The structure was cracking and needed to be stabilized.”
Then the 2001 recession hit and after two previous drives, Haydock said he just didn’t have the heart to ask for any more financial assistance from his congregation.
“So many people were suffering at that time,” he said.
Appeals were made in 2003, 2007 and 2010 to finance improvements for the school, the church building and the new structure. Over that time the original plan for a $12 million, 27,000-square-foot center was scaled back to a $4.8 million construction plan. The total project was $7.2 million. That included furnishings and debt reduction of the $4.7 million school construction and $1.3 million for the church retrofit.
Parishioners Kelli and Steve Terry spearheaded the fundraising efforts.
“There was joy at the groundbreaking, but walking into the building today is even better” Kelli Terry said. “The space will be well used.”
The Terrys, Woodway residents, applauded Haydock’s vision for the new building.
“There were a lot of obstacles,” Steve Terry said. “People questioned the money, the size and more. But, we trusted Father’s vision and took the risk. I’m glad we did it. It’s a legacy that was built to last.
“There are some real generous people in Edmonds,” Steve Terry said. “It is great to have a place to celebrate the milestones of our faith.”
A dedication Mass with the Most Rev. J. Peter Sartain, archbishop of Seattle, is planned at 11 a.m. May 6 at Holy Rosary Pastoral Center, 630 Seventh Ave. N. in Edmonds.Holy Rosary Pastoral Center, 630 Seventh Ave. N.