Fr. Mueller, administrator of St. Juan Diego, leads a prayer during the groundbreaking. (Courtesy St. Juan Diego Parish)
Fr. Mueller, administrator of St. Juan Diego, leads a prayer during the groundbreaking. (Courtesy St. Juan Diego Parish)
Staff of St. Juan Diego Parish in Northwest Portland have gotten creative with a tight squeeze — for example using their reconciliation room as an office and the utility room as a sacristy. But with symbolic scoops of dirt, the parish community was one step closer to a more spacious facility.

On July 31, a groundbreaking and blessing ceremony marked the second phase of the church. Construction soon will be underway to erect new offices, three classrooms and a catering kitchen. The classrooms will include retractable walls, which can be folded to transform the space into a community center.

The parish was founded in 2002 and the church built in 2010. The upcoming additions always have been part of the parish masterplan, becoming urgent as the community experienced tremendous growth.

“All of this construction will allow us to expand our faith formation programs, provide more meeting spaces and let us further grow the life of our parish,” said Peggy Brice, business manager. “Everyone did such a great job in a challenging environment, but the extra space will be such a treat.”

It’s a $3 million project, and the parish has raised all but $400,000. Architect Brian Jackson and 5 Star Construction will spearhead the effort.

Brice said Father Terry O’Connell, the previous pastor, ushered the parish through the bulk of the preparation, fundraising and planning over the past few years. Father Hans Mueller, appointed administrator in July, recently signed the last contract to approve the groundbreaking.

Construction is expected to take about eight months and wrap up before Easter.