As Lakewood Ranch continues to develop and grow, that growth is being felt at places of worship including Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church.
As a way to help meet the growing community’s demands, the church, which is at 12905 S.R. 70 E., is planning to expand.
“It’s really quite overcrowded because of the demand and the people that are there,” said Frank Dewane, who is the bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida.
It takes money to build all of this so we do that over time.
Frank Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida
The church received the county commission’s blessing earlier this month when they approved the expansion plans, which call for the construction of approximately 36,000-square feet of additional facilities on 15.21 acres on the northwest corner of State Road 70 and White Eagle Boulevard. The church’s existing footprint is just more than 17,000 square feet.
“The church is the priority,” Dewane said of the proposed expansion which also includes additional buildings. “That’s why this whole thing started. It is a growing area. You have families coming and they are growing. We will be responding to all of that in due time. It takes money to build all of this so we do that over time.”
The work on the project is expected to begin on March 20, and should take no more than 12 months to complete, according to Bo Nepip, director of the building department at the Diocese of Venice in Florida.
“That is the intent,” he said.
Since there is an eagle’s nest on the property, the construction will have to take place within the guidelines set by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, according to Nepip. The church “strategically placed the building” outside of 330-foot radius from the nest so they can work year round.
“This is a very unique situation,” he said. “We are trying to get really smart. We are trying to schedule as best we can.”
Once complete, the church will seat 1,070 people compared to today’s capacity of 565.
“It’s been full,” Dewane said of the existing space.
The new church building will cost $7 million and the church has 80 percent of the cost on hand, according to Dewane.
“There was a capital campaign and we are still raising funds,” he said. “The diocese requires that 80 percent of funds to be collected. That’s why we are continuing to raise funds.”
It is a dynamic parish, Dewane said.
“It’s an exciting place,” he said. “I know the people are very engaged in the parish. I’m excited about it for them, for the parishioners.”
Nepip added: “I’m excited about getting it built.”