St. Theresa raising funds for new church |

St. Theresa raising funds for new church

Parishioners of St. Theresa Catholic Church will be digging deep into their pockets over the next 10 weeks as a fund-raising campaign to build a new church begins.

St. Theresa officials are aiming to raise $750,000 for a four-story structure that could be ready for the faithful in the year 2000. The Rev. Murrough Wallace said after consulting with the church’s parish council and informing the congregation on Sunday, they are ready to start.

“We have had a very positive response to the plans,” Wallace said, citing a $25,000 donation from a Bay Area resident. “We’ve talked the whole thing over with the parish council and haven’t received one negative word.”

The church has also enlisted the assistance of a consulting firm called Guidance in Giving, Inc. The national, nonprofit organization conducts the administrative arm of the fund-raising campaign. They gather volunteers, hold receptions and print mailers. The church pays for the consultants’ fee, although that figure wasn’t disclosed.

Izzy Menchero, who represents Guidance, said more religious groups are hiring outside help because they usually don’t have enough staff. Menchero’s firm analyzed the appropriate amount of money that can be generated from the 2,000 or more families that regularly visit St. Theresa. Based on their study, they came up with the $750,000 figure.

“We look at the parish inside and out,” he said. “We anticipate that three-quarters of a million dollars will be attainable at St. Theresa.”

With $1.8 million in savings, the fund-raising goal will not only aid the church but the school as well. One-third of the generated $750,000 will be used for an endowment in the school’s name. Wallace said they would like to build the trust fund to $500,000 with the accruing interest benefiting school programs.

“We want to have money in case our school encounters financial difficulties,” Wallace said. “We want to be able to take care of our school down the road.”

The new church would replace the Catholic complex located on Lyons Avenue. The set of structures was built in the mid-1950s and is considered outdated by church officials. They also claim that the long list of renovations would equal or cost more than a new facility.

The proposal would blend more of a traditional look with the Tahoe motif. The plan is to reduce the number of Sunday masses for more seating. The new church would have 700 seats in a round like an auditorium. The blueprints include a social hall, bookstore and a plaza to handle the crowds. The church has had a safety concern with parishioners gathering right outside the front doors, a few feet from passing traffic.

Wallace has received approval from his boss, the archdiocese in Sacramento. St. Theresa will still have to gain approval from the city of South Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

A recall petition that was circulated prior to the fund-raising campaign didn’t damper Wallace’s spirits. He said the green light from the archdiocese was a good signal that this project will come to fruition some day.

“We’ve made some adjustments in our plan and we’re talking about the details right now,” Wallace said. “Our parish is very supportive of the new church and I don’t think we will have a problem raising the money.”

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