Growing Simpsonville church to build new parish life complex

SIMPSONVILLE—When Deacon Ivan and Peggy Hawk moved to the Greenville area from Vermont three years ago, they immediately joined St. Mary Magdalene Church and several of the parish’s 80-plus ministries — a number that now tops 90.

That participation soon led the couple, joined by many others, to discuss ways to adequately address current and future needs.

“We needed more space to allow these ministries to grow even more,” the Hawks said in a recent testimonial.

Parishioners at this rapidly growing parish hope to see that need fulfilled starting in the fall of 2019, when ground is expected to be broken on a new parish life building.

Earlier this month, the parish launched a capital campaign, with the goal of raising $8.2 million to construct and equip the new center. A master plan that includes the new parish life building was completed in 2016. The new building will include two meeting halls, a kitchen, six meeting rooms, green outdoor space, and 29 additional parking spaces.

St. Mary Magdalene started in the late 1980s as a mission church. At that time, the roughly 300 faithful gathered for Mass at a Methodist church while a permanent gathering space was being built nearby. That church, currently the parish life center, shortly gave way to a larger structure built in the late 1990s and expanded in 2004.

Over the past three decades, the parish has grown to more than 4,000 families, reflecting a general population boom in what’s often referred to as the “Golden Strip” of Greenville County. It includes the cities of Mauldin, Simpsonville and Fountain Inn.

The parish’s growth makes scheduling the various ministries — youth formation classes, evangelization and catechetical ministries, and other parish activities — a logistical challenge, said Johanna Espindola, communications coordinator at St. Mary Magdalene.

Current facilities on the parish campus are booked well in advance for many events. Others, including indoor youth athletics, are held at neighboring churches, she said.

The main hall at the new building will be large enough for those indoor athletic events, plus parish-wide gatherings, while a smaller hall will cater to more formal gatherings. In total, the structure will cover more than 23,000 square feet.

Parishioners Michael and Paula McGarry said the project is long overdue.

“Though our children are now grown, there are many families who will benefit from a parish life building in ways we wish we had been able to,” the McGarrys said. “These families are the future of our parish.”

Father Theo Trujillo, pastor, said the project will benefit both young families and older parishioners.

“As a thriving community of faith, we need a facility to support these ministries and programs that nourish our parishioners at every age and stage of life, and foster our Catholic identity,” he said.

Current plans call for the new parish life building to open in late 2020.

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