Groundbreaking on the USC Catholic Center — scheduled to begin this month — has been pushed back to early 2010 because of delays in obtaining building permits from the city.
Plans for building a new Catholic Center, including a 25,000-square foot church at 32nd and Hoover streets, began six years ago. The current Catholic Center, which was inaugurated in 1958, will be torn down and its services moved to a temporary location near campus once groundbreaking begins.
“These things take longer than you think,” said Father Lawrence Seyer, the pastor of the USC Catholic Center. “In order to move up in the phase, you need to make sure the previous process is completed.”
Executive Director of the Catholic Center Clare Faulkner said about one-third of USC students are Catholic, which was one of the reasons they wanted to build a newer, bigger center.
“Our board is committed to building a place for all students to gather and have another place for service, socializing and to practice their faith,” she said.
With the delay in construction, the new center is now set to open in 2011.
“The approval process takes time,” Faulkner said. “We were optimistic about the timeline and found the reality — that it is going to be pushed back.”
The new Catholic Center, open to everyone, will include classrooms, a library, meeting rooms, a chapel, a media room and a student union.
“We were making do with our current facility but we have really outgrown our capacity,” said Anthony Heim, the campus minister and associate director of the Catholic Center. “This project is coming at a right time for us as our community continues to grow. It is a much-needed project.”
While waiting for the permits to be approved, the Catholic Center is still finding funding for the $35-million project.
“We are continuing our fundraising effort,” Faulkner said. “We have raised close to $28 million but are looking for alumni, parents and friends who want to help raise the remaining.”
The money raised so far has come from USC alumni, foundations, parents and friends of the university. Students familiar with the center are excited for the new building to be constructed.
“It is nice to know our facilities will get bigger and better and provide a place for students to participate,” said Oswaldo Rivera-Ortiz, a graduate student studying architecture and a worker at the Catholic Center.
Rivera-Ortiz is only disappointed that he won’t be at USC when the center opens.
“I work here so I know how much everyone is working hard to make this happen,” Rivera-Ortiz said. “I’m just disappointed that it’s taking long because I would have wanted to see it ready in my time here — it looks like a good place for students.”
The new church and center will continue to provide mass, dinners, homeless ministry and various social activities.
“Our mission is to produce a home away from home for students to make friends, practice their faith and serve others,” Faulkner said.
Heim also believes the new site will be more prominent.
“Students will see what we offer in a new light and provide a greater visibility,” Heim said.