Not a country church now: Prince of Peace bilingual and growing
Prince of Peace Catholic Community is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a gift for its parishioners and guests - more space.
The church at 19222 Tomball Parkway is in the midst of a construction project that will add 500 seats to the main worship area's 1,250-seat capacity.
"We've taken walls out and we're expanding," said Charles Butler, communications director. Construction began in May.
The project is focusing on the church's main worship space and will add about 3,500 square feet to the church for a total of 27,500 square feet. The space also will gain new audiovisual equipment, a front entrance and welcome area, along with new stained glass, carpeting and upholstery for the pews.
Before construction, Prince of Peace was celebrating eight Masses a week in the main worship area, Butler said. Remaining services have been held in the Mary Chapel, which seats 400. In most cases, the services are full.
The church is temporarily holding Mass in its community center during construction.
"That was our only option," Butler said of the expansion. "We wanted to make sure everyone could worship appropriately and not go without seats."
Complementing the indoor improvements will be the main plaza area.
"We're really dressing it up and making it a place for community gatherings," Butler said.
The church is adding trellises to the area and sprucing up its garden.
Longtime parishioners James and Susan Fogarty chair the capital campaign drive for the construction project. They have hosted 27 receptions to get the word out about expansion and the need for support.
Their fund-raising goal was $5.5 million. Parishioners have pledged $6.2 million, and the Fogartys are following up on those commitments.
Susan Fogarty expects to see the church expansion dedicated in November.
Fogarty said she has been amazed at the variety of people she has met at the receptions, and the circumstances from which they come.
"One mother is raising five children on her own, but she said, 'I'm going to give because this is important.' "
Fogarty is looking forward to seeing the new seating in place.
"Nothing's more depressing than seeing people standing in the back of the church trying to worship when everyone else has seats or kneelers."
Also important is the addition of a front door for the church, she said. Up to now, people have been entering the building through four side doors and walking to the worship area in the center.
"It's like mice coming in to a piece of big cheese," Fogarty said, adding that a front door is a form of welcome.
"There will be greeters there, and people will be able to see straight ahead to the altar," she said.
In its early years, Prince of Peace was considered a small, country church, Butler said.
Today, it has more than 7,000 registered households, mostly from northwest Harris County, and has become the largest bilingual Catholic community in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
"There's a lot of energy here, a positive feel," said Fogarty, who joined the church with James in 1983. "It always has been exciting. It's not perfect, but Prince of Peace draws people together."
Butler, who drives to the church from west Houston, said he has always been struck by its warmth.
"The parish is welcoming and very hospitable to people. We have a ministry for everybody."
Among those ministries, he said, is a military outreach that distributes care packages.
Additional outreach ministries include emergency financial/referral assistance, disaster response, Christmas family adoption, Habitat for Humanity projects, English as a Second Language Classes and a job program, among others.
The church also has a strong youth ministry, Butler said.
For more information, call 281-469-2686 or visit www.pophouston.org.