CENTRAL POINT — When Marty Edinger was baptized at Shepherd of the Valley Parish 10 years ago, the church used a garden tub as a baptismal font. For many decades, she and other Catholics here attended Mass in a structure that was once a fruit stand.
It was a modest setting, but members of this Southern Oregon congregation are proud of their humble roots. So once parishioners had raised the $3.5 million needed to build a new church, they honored that simplicity by designing a building that was unpretentious, but beautiful.
The new church was dedicated Sunday.
Father Mike Walker, pastor, said the event was emotional for many people in parish.
“It was moving to see all those years of planning, everything coming together,” he said. “It was a joyful occasion.”
Archbishop Alexander Sample visited Shepherd of the Valley for the first time for the dedication, which drew approximately 1,100 people, including former clergymen Fathers Jim Clifford and David Janes.
Edinger, who has been part of the church community for 12 years, has assisted during various phases of the new church’s planning and construction. A florist, she created flower displays for the dedication.
During the building’s design process, committee members were careful to honor parishioners’ collective vision, as well as the Northwest environment. Tearing down a building that has been people’s faith home for decades is a delicate process, Edinger said.
“We wanted everyone to embrace the new church,” she said. “I’ve been giving tours [for parishioners] through the church, and when I look at them and say, ‘This is your church,’ some have broken down and cried because it’s so beautiful.”
During the construction, parish leaders were careful to choose local subcontractors and purchase building materials, like wood, stone, tile and marble, from local businesses.
“Change doesn’t come easy for people,” Father Walker said. “But the overall reaction was very positive.”
Amy Moore, a real estate broker by trade, led the design committee and her husband Bret served as liaison between the church and the commercial contractor. This was the first time Moore had witnessed a Catholic church dedication, and she felt inspired as Archbishop Sample anointed and incensed the top of the altar, installed a relic, and anointed different points around the church.
It was a tearful day, she said.
“I have small children who will marry in this church, maybe they will even baptize their own children here,” Moore said. “It’s been an experience that has shaped my life. I was very happy to be a part of it.”