The USC Catholic Center held the final Mass in its current building on Sunday. Our Savior Parish will be decommissioned to make way for a new church, scheduled to open in fall 2012.
Sunday Mass will be moved to room 101 of the Salvatori Computer Science Building while construction is underway.
Daily Masses will be moved to the Office of Religious Life in the University Religious Center.
The USC Catholic Center will move its operations to a temporary location in University Village.
“Out of the ashes of this old building will rise a beautiful new building on par with the rest of USC,” Father Lawrence Seyer said during the service.
Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles Joseph Sartoris presided over the mass. Other clergy members were also in attendance, many of whom are alumni of USC and the parish. The service included a special blessing for members who have received a sacrament — including baptism, first communion, confirmation or marriage — at the parish.
Following the formal Mass, a ceremony was held for the decommissioning of the church. Speakers included Joseph Boskovich, the chairman of the reconstruction, and Kathleen McCarthy, daughter of the founder of the Catholic Center.
“[This] means so much to me and my family,” McCarthy said. “I hope the students will treasure what has been done for them [and will] grow in their faith.”
Following the ceremony, Seyer removed the tabernacle — a cabinet that contains the Eucharist — and locked the doors of the church for the final time. The crucifix was then taken off the building, symbolizing the official closing of the church.
“There are tears because of the significance [of the old church], but also joy because of the building of the new church,” Seyer said.
In hard hats that read “Fight On!,” the organizers of the project broke ground, officially beginning the construction of the new church. After the initial ground was broken, students were also invited to participate in the event.
“I think it’s going to be an awesome facility,” said Rosalie Murphy, a freshman majoring in history. “It’s going to be cool to have a new, more functional space.”
The plans for the new parish were formulated eight years ago, under former USC President Steven B. Sample, who was present at the Mass and was part of the groundbreaking ceremony.
The plans for the new parish, estimated to cost $35 million, were announced in November 2007. The church has raised $33.5 million and hopes to raise the remaining $1.5 million during the 18 months of construction.
The project was initially estimated at $10 million, but the costs rose as plans for the church changed into a more traditional-style Catholic church and added an endowment, according to Clare Faulkner, the executive director of the Catholic Center.
“[The project combined] my love for USC with my love for faith and my belief in kids’ futures as the leaders of this country,” said Rick Caruso, a principal $6-million donor for whom the new center will be named.
“We look forward to building a church where [all] can worship,” Faulkner said.
The cornerstone for the new church was blessed by Pope Benedict XVI in May. The blessing was part of an eight-day trip by Seyer, former USC First Lady Kathryn Sample and other church members to the Vatican.
The new center will include a student union, a library, study areas and two courtyards, Caruso said. The center as a whole is designed to make ministry a more integral part of college life.
Caruso, however, said that he is excited about the chapel more than anything.
“Any great university has a great chapel, and USC is a great university,” Caruso said, “As long as the kids love it, we’ve done a great job.”