A multi-purpose building is slowly taking shape beside St. Joachim Catholic Church on a bit of land once occupied by J Street in central Madera.
“What we’re building is an extension to the parish center that we already have,” said Denise Bondurant, business manager for the church, “and it will include more meeting rooms, showers and also a bookstore.”
The individual shower stalls in the new building will be for the benefit of adults and youths participating in various multi-day retreats.
"Many of the retreats are overnight and participants are not always able to go home. It’s just an opportunity for them to take a shower. Most people would love that," Bondurant said.
Diana Saenz, director of religious education for St. Joachim, is excited about the new construction. She coordinates the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine program that prepares Catholic children who do not attend St. Joachim School for their first Holy Communion and other sacraments.
“I think its great that we’re getting this done. The parish community is growing. We have a lot of children coming through here. We already have over a 1,000 children in the process of getting enrolled,” Saenz said.
Ramiro Garza, director of evangelization at St. Joachim Church, said the Spanish-speaking ministries of the church will greatly benefit as well.
“We all know that its something that we’ve needed for a long time and we’re anxiously waiting for construction to be completed,” he said.
Garza said there is not enough capacity in the existing facilites for many of the Hispanic Ministry’s programs conducted in Spanish, such as La Noche de Alabanza, an evening of praise held on Fridays that averages an attendance of hundreds. The additional room will not only be available to members of the church, but to those who are interested in learning more about the faith, he said.
The new parish center will help ease a longstanding problem for many ministries and organizations at the church: too few rooms available for meetings and events. The church’s current parish center is heavily scheduled even a year in advance.
“We do need the room. We try to schedule something and we can’t get the rooms... It will be nice to have the room to minister to the children,” Saenz said. “But I (also) really like the idea of having that (Catholic) bookstore because we always have to go to Fresno for that.”