Fr. Martin Diaz holds ground breaking ceremony

Friday, Dec. 19, 2008
Fr. Martin Diaz holds ground breaking ceremony + Enlarge
Father Martin Diaz (center), pastor of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Parish, Midvale, blesses the site where the addition will be built on to the existing chapel. Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini, Michael Lee, pastoral operations director for the Diocese of Salt Lake City, and Tom Stevens, contractor have been instrumental in the plans. Construction will begin in the next few weeks. IC photo by Christine Young

MIDVALE — Father Martin Diaz, pastor of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Parish, Midvale, held a ground breaking ceremony Dec. 14, to bless the site where the addition will be built on to the Saint Therese chapel.

Parishioners gathered in the chilling wind and freezing temperature as Fr. Diaz blessed the area and the existing structure.

The chapel is no longer in use as it is nearing the Jan. 5, one-year anniversary of the fire which consumed the interior of the building. Fr. Diaz and Associate Pastor Father Fidel Barrera have been celebrating Mass in the parish hall.

"The work we are beginning today should enliven our faith and make us grateful," said Fr. Diaz. "We know the familiar words of the Psalm, ‘If the Lord does not build the house in vain do its builders labor?’ Whenever we look to the interests of our neighbors or the community and serve them, we are in a sense God’s own co-workers. Let us pray that God will bring our construction to a successful completion and that God’s protection will keep those who work on it safe from injury."

Fr. Diaz expressed sorrow for the Most Rev. John C. Wester, Bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City, who could not be in attendance for the ground breaking ceremony. Bishop Wester is praying for us and the success of this project.

Mayor JoAnn Seghini, who is also a member of Saint Therese Parish, said, "Due to the glory of God, the great help of our bishop, and the generosity of the people of Saint Therese, we are preparing to build a house of God that will be big enough for all of our people. Midvale will grow by 20,000 people in the next 10 years. The church will be bigger, the parish hall will be better, and the little church will exist as a church. Thank all of you for making this happen."

Fr. Diaz said there is a master plan for the whole campus. Construction on Saint Therese will take place in three phases. The first phase will be to rebuild and add on to the church. The second part is the renovation of the parish hall kitchen. The third phase is the restoration of the little rock church to be used as a chapel for daily masses, small weddings, and quinceañeras.

"We really owe a great debt of gratitude to Bishop Wester," said Fr. Diaz. "He came in February to celebrate Mass with us following the fire. He saw the number of people at the noon Mass, which is a Spanish Mass, and realized how many people were standing up every Sunday. The old chapel could seat 350.The new chapel will add 160 seats. He made the decision then, instead of waiting five years to raise the money first, that we would go ahead and start the construction now. Bishop Wester realized the community is growing, we had to rebuild the church anyway, so as long as we were rebuilding it, we should make it bigger to accommodate the parish.

Fr. Diaz said they just completed their Capital Campaign. The goal was $425,000, and the pledges are $569,000. So the rate of subscription to the pledge is 78 percent of the parish.

"Normally 40 percent is considered excellent in terms of the percentage of parishioners who subscribe to a campaign, so we almost doubled that which is phenomenal," said Fr. Diaz. "Because the project itself is estimated to be about $1,600,000, and we received $200,000 from the insurance settlement, that makes the cost about $1,400,000.

"As Mayor Seghini mentioned, because Midvale itself is growing, probably the Masses that are in English will also grow once the parish is restored," said Fr. Diaz. "We are trying to think ahead to the next 10 or 20 years to best serve the people of Midvale, as well as our parishioners from West Jordan, South Jordan, and Kearns. Saint Therese was once the parish for the entire South Salt Lake Valley, before Saint Thomas More, Blessed Sacrament, Saint John the Baptist, and Saint Andrew Parishes were built.

Saint Therese has about 600 families registered. Seventy percent of the parish is Spanish-speaking primarily and come to the Masses celebrated in Spanish. The other 30 percent come to the Masses that are celebrated in English.

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