A Langford Catholic church is bucking the trend of shrinking congregations with growth so strong they are in the process of constructing and moving to a new building three times larger than their current church and community hall.
Our Lady of the Rosary Parish has been in its current Goldstream Avenue location for nearly 70 years, but Father Dean Henderson said it has been known for at least 25 of those years a larger space was needed.
“The church is really full at 225 people or so. Pre-COVID, we would occasionally get masses of 350 people – just packed in there like sardines,” said Henderson of the current location. “The move is being driven by growth. By lots of young families, by lots of kids, by general need for space for worship.”
The pastor said there have been on-and-off efforts to move to a new location going back nearly to the parish’s founding, but they have all stalled and eventually been abandoned altogether. This time, however, everything is going to plan.
A seven-acre property on Irwin Road has been secured and designs for the new building are being finalized. The new building will feature a 350-person capacity community hall attached to a 600-person church sanctuary which can be stretched as large as 750 people when needed.
It will also feature plenty of office space and a 30-spot daycare. Henderson said the building is also being designed to accommodate a potential kindergarten to Grade 4 Catholic school further down the road.
“There is going to be lots of capacity to welcome people. There is great hope we will be able to expand the number of ministries and programs we run,” he said.
The larger space is needed as despite many other parishes across the country seeing their congregations shrink to the point some churches across Canada are closing down entirely, Henderson’s congregation is growing rapidly and has been for many years.
It’s a trend he attributes to the rapid growth the West Shore is experiencing, a significant amount of immigration from predominantly Catholic countries like the Philippines and those in Latin America, and to the parish’s efforts to be a community organization people want to be a part of.
The parish is currently required to leave its current location by October 2023 after Royal Roads university purchased the property earlier this year, and the hope is the community hall section of the new building will be ready around the same time, allowing the congregation to change locations seamlessly.
The sanctuary section in the new building is expected to be ready a few months after that, allowing the congregation to settle into its permanent home.