SUGAR GROVE – A crowd of more than 650 showed up Thursday to celebrate the first Mass at St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Church in Sugar Grove.
All 375 seats were filled in the chapel, and there were nearly 300 more seated just outside, with a TV set up for those who could not see inside. It was a grand opening for a church that was launched four years ago and had been meeting at John Shields Elementary School.
The church is at 8S055 Dugan Road in Sugar Grove.
Sugar Grove residents Dan and Lisa Long got their first glimpse of the church. After years of such an arrangement, they now have a church with room to spare. There is glass and artwork, and downstairs there is room for religious education classes.
The Longs said it was beautiful and a long time coming. They are longtime Sugar Grove residents who had to go elsewhere before the church was formed. And now, there is a new building.
“It’s nice to have something close to home now,” Lisa Long said.
Bill and Tooter Roeder described it as an emotional experience, saying the church was wonderful. And Bill Roeder praised the church’s pastor, the Rev. Bob Jones, for being an inspiration.
“We had Father Bob at the right time,” he said.
Only days ago, workers were putting the finishing touches on the $8 million project. Jones acknowledged the generosity of the Rich family, which donated the land and money to the project. And Jones offered special prayers for Anthony Rich, 96, who couldn’t attend.
“We want to get him in here to see his dream,” Jones said. “We keep that in our prayers.”
Jones said the community had worked to make the church a reality. He said Thanksgiving, while not a holy day of obligation, was the perfect day for the church’s opening, and “everything about giving thanks is at the heart of worship.”
“I’ve been unbelievably moved by the spirit of the people here,” Jones said. “I am very grateful for all of our benefactors. We have a place that we can call home now.”
Jones called on parishioners to consider “at the very least, 10 things to be grateful for.”