Thousands gathered at the new Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church waiting to enter for a dedicatory Mass. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church parishioners officially opened their new church after a dedication ceremony and procession was held by church staff and Bishop Gerald Kicanas of the Diocese of Tucson.

Thousands of parishioners and residents gathered on the 38-acre property to be part of the historic day. A procession featuring the Knights of Columbus, the bishop and congregation marched from the shrine of Mary to the front steps of the cathedral.

“The meaning (of the new church) to the community is so awesome with so many things coming to Maricopa because of this church,” parishioner Alma Farrell said. “The surrounding of the homes, the surrounding of the future apartments and the long-term care center; all kinds of things are going to come because of this. As a long time resident of Maricopa, this has to be one of the happiest moments of my life.”

Kicanas was the first to enter the church in order to bless the building. The public was then welcome to take part in the Mass of Rite of Dedication and the community reception that followed.

“We have a three-hour mass through the old Roman Rites in which the church is blessed, anointed and made ready for regular masses,” Construction and Design Committee Chairman Ken Lepper said.

Parishioners and city officials hope the church property will become the anchor for a “modern neighborhood” at the center of the city. Housing, apartment, retain and restaurants are expected to fill up the area over the next eight to ten years.

“I can tell you just from talking with others, there are retail investors that are already excited about this being here,” Maricopa Mayor Christian Price said. “They know it brings people, it brings population, and with that, it brings houses. Anytime we can see this type of construction going on and these types of facilities going up in Maricopa it’s a benefit to all of us, so we’re very excited.”

Regular masses will begin at the new church on Sunday.