$6.8M addition, renovation underway

Becky Vargo • Mar 20, 2017 at 10:00 AM

More than a century and a half after the Grand Haven area established its own Catholic parish, a large fundraising effort has resulted in a $6.8 million addition and sanctuary renovation project for the St. Patrick/St. Anthony Parish.

The construction of a 25,000-square-foot, two-story family center at the corner of Columbus Avenue and DeSpelder Street and renovation of the church’s sanctuary at 920 Fulton Ave. began in September 2016.

Parish Administrator John Strazanac said the plans are to be back in the sanctuary for Easter.

The new family center, which will be called the Outreach Center, is scheduled for completion in November. 

The building that houses the parish’s administrative offices, the Job Seeker program, and the English as a Second Language (ESL) and GED programs will be torn down once those programs are moved into the new and old family centers, respectively. That area will then become parking.

Strazanac said the administrative offices will move to the second floor of the new family center. Conference rooms will also be located on the second story. The first floor will house more conference areas, a nursery, warming kitchen and much larger lobby or entrance area.

“The space between the church and the family center will be fully enclosed,” Strazanac said. “It will be a gathering space with a two-story atrium.”

Strazanac said that the big gathering space “will be so much more welcoming for guests coming to events.” He noted that it will be a lot more open than the entrance to the old family center. 

The parish still plans to use the large meeting room in the old family center, which is where church services take place while the sanctuary is being renovated. The Job Seekers, ELS and GED programs will occupy the other space in the building.

The sanctuary project includes new lights and a new sound system, including an improved loop in the floor designed to help people with hearing aids get better sound from anything broadcast. Volunteers built new acoustical panels, which were being installed on the walls.

The remodeled altar will also have a backdrop with acoustical value, Strazanac said.

Volunteers removed the pews and are also refurbishing the older pews in the balcony. A lighting structure will highlight the baptistry in the church entry area. Entry doors are being replaced with glass for more lighting and visibility. New wood trim and renovations are being made to the Reconciliation Room (confession) and Adoration Chapel. The music area also received new acoustical panels.

Strazanac said the planning for the project to bring the entire campus under one roof began in 2008.

The exception is the Youth Center, which will remain in the former Eastern Floral building on Washington Avenue. That building was purchased about four years ago, he said.

A feasibility study was conducted in 2013 and the silent launch of a $5.5 million fundraising campaign started in May 2014. The public launch of the campaign was the following September.

Strazanac said the cost of the project went up by the time bids were let in the fall of 2016.

Pledges and private donations have brought in $5.2 million.

Anyone interested in donating can contact Father Chuck Schwartz at the parish office: 616-942-0001, ext. 113. Or you may send a check to St. Patrick/St. Anthony Parish, 920 Fulton Ave., Grand Haven, MI 49417. Donations to the Opening Doors Capital Campaign may also be made online at: https://www.osvonlinegiving.com/3077/DirectDonate/46680.


1850s – Catholics in the Grand Haven area were part of the St. Andrew’s Catholic Parish of Grand Rapids.

1857 – First Grand Haven-area Catholic Church, forerunner of St. Patrick’s and St. Mary’s, built at Mill Point, 208 N. Division St. in Spring Lake.

1870 – Mill Point became the St. Mary’s Parish.

1872 – St. Patrick’s Catholic Church built at 810 Fulton in Grand Haven.

1905 – St. Mary’s closes.

1911 – St. Mary’s re-opens.

1924 – St. Mary’s Church dedicated on Prospect Street between Savidge and Exchange streets in Spring Lake.

1957 – New St. Patrick’s Church dedicated after old one demolished for construction of Beacon Boulevard.

1990 – Expansion of lobby and renovation of sanctuary at St. Patrick’s Church. Canopy built to connect church to family center.

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