By Jacqueline Burkepile
Special to The Texas Catholic
MCKINNEY — Two decades after he led efforts to found the parish, Auxiliary Bishop Greg Kelly returned to St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church on May 15 to celebrate a new chapter in the growing community’s history.
Bishop Kelly, who joined more than 500 parishioners and supporters in celebrating the groundbreaking of the parish’s new permanent sanctuary, expressed his gratitude for the Holy Spirit’s continued work within the St. Gabriel community.
“It is with faith in him and by responding to the gifts that he, himself, has entrusted to us that we dedicate this place and break the ground for the church that will be here as a faith home for the Catholic parish of St. Gabriel the Archangel,” said Bishop Kelly, who served as the parish’s first pastor from 1996-2008.
St. Gabriel’s new 32,000 square-foot, Byzantine-style church will cost $21.5 million and construction is being funded by donations, various fundraisers, and parishioner pledges.
The new church will include seating for 1,200 in the main worship area, as well as an additional 200 seats in the chapel. It will also include a narthex, courtyards and a bell tower. Construction begins in June with an anticipated completion in early 2018.
Father Don Zeiler, who serves as pastor of St. Gabriel, said he prayed that the groundbreaking would occur this year to coincide with the parish’s 20th anniversary. He added that the building of a new church is a “complex task.”
“Building this church calls for lots of prayer, reflection, technical expertise, and a lot of study,” Father Zeiler said. “Through all the planning, we have kept our mission statement as our focus: we are to be fed by Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, and we are sent forth to know, love and serve him always, everywhere and in everyone.”
McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller also offered words of inspiration and gratitude.
“Today, you’re getting ready to build a sanctuary. It’s a very great and proud day for you,” Loughmiller said. “I hope that as you build a sanctuary, you give honor to God and end up with a building that is beautiful.”
St. Gabriel parishioners gathered at a reception following the Rite of Blessing and expressed their anticipation for the completion of the sanctuary.
“I think it is amazing to see what everyone has done,” said Lori Broas, a parishioner of almost two decades. “It will be wonderful to see it all come to fruition.”
John Kysely, also a parishioner of 20 years, called the parish’s permanent sanctuary plans “beautiful,” adding that more seating is greatly needed.
“At this point in time, our Masses are packed,” Kysely said. “The new sanctuary will be wonderful and is well-needed.”
Parish director Deacon Michael Seibold said the new church will be a place where the community can bring children and teach them about the Catholic faith.
“We have been looking forward to this since the parish was first formed,” Deacon Seibold said. “It is very exciting.”