Rochester parish breaks ground on 10,800-square-foot addition

An artist’s rendering shows what St. Andrew Parish’s planned addition will look like when completed in June 2019.

ROCHESTER — You wouldn't know it from its surroundings, but St. Andrew Parish, nestled in a quiet neighborhood near bustling downtown Rochester, for years has been among the largest parishes in the state of Michigan.

With 4,800 registered families and hundreds of students attending Holy Family Regional School, which the parish co-sponsors, the dual-level church is routinely full for weekend Masses and special events.

Msgr. Mike Hrydziuszko, pastor of St. Andrew Parish in Rochester, blesses the grounds where the parish will construct a 10,800-foot parish activity center over the coming year. On June 10, the parish broke ground on the project. (Mike Stechschulte | The Michigan Catholic)

However, as ministries and special events have grown, the parish quickly discovered its current space wasn’t enough.

“Our church is a fine church and a large church. It seats about 1,250 people. But it was built right after the Second Vatican Council, and we never had a real gathering space or foyer,” St. Andrew pastor Msgr. Mike Hrydziuszko told The Michigan Catholic. “The original church had one set of bathrooms, and when I say one, I mean one.”

On June 10, the parish broke ground on a new, 10,800-square-foot addition that will house a gathering space, three additional conference rooms and a new vestibule — more than enough room to keep up with the parish’s rising needs.

The project, which will cost approximately $4.5 million to $5 million, will also include improved parking lot lighting, covered ADA-accessible entryways for bad weather drop-offs and pick-ups, and additional restrooms.

With the parish campus split into multiple buildings — the church is across the parking lot from the current school building and activities center — hosting evangelization gatherings or after-Mass events was often a challenge, Msgr. Hrydziuszko said.

“We do coffee and donuts here, but it’s in another building. When the weather is bad, people pass their cars as they go to the other building, and they often just get in their car and drive away. And that’s just the reality of it,” Msgr. Hrydziuszko said. “This project addresses simple things like that, but it also creates four different spaces for meetings or gatherings, most of which can be opened up into one big space to hold larger events and functions.”

With 425 students on Holy Family Regional School’s St. Andrew campus — and another 425 on the campus of nearby St. Mary of the Hills Parish in Rochester Hills — and 950 students in religious education, finding space for events was always a challenge.

And that’s not to mention the various ministries the parish offers, such as Alpha, Next Step (a second-level evangelization program) and smaller gatherings such as Bible studies, knitting ministries and youth groups.

“It’s a logistical nightmare in terms of scheduling (events) sometimes, and often we have to say no to people because there’s just not the space,” Msgr. Hrydziuszko said. “It’s a hopping place. We’ve been growing, but it’s not only because of the growth of the parish.”

The parish has saved $1.5 million so far for the project, and aims to raise additional funds through its annual Catholic Services Appeal campaign.

Msgr. Hrydziuszko said the parish hopes to have the project completed by June 2019.