A new church to serve the people of Hispanic heritage in southern Chester County Pennsylvania is currently under construction and on schedule to open in the summer of 2011. The new St. Rocco Catholic Church is the result of the dedication of a number of key parties including Monsignor Frank Depman who has been ministering to the Spanish-speaking members of several local churches since the early 1990’s; Rocco Abessinio, a businessman who funded the new church; and the tight-knit, energized community of Misión Santa Maria, Madre de Dios, who will make up the new parish.
While Misión Santa Maria has been serving Hispanic Catholics since 1992, a void existed as local churches lacked the language skills and resources to appropriately accommodate the nearly 3,000 families in the community. In addition to providing a welcoming and culturally familiar place to worship, the new Saint Rocco Parish will continue Misión Santa Maria’s work to support the community’s social needs and assist them in negotiating the challenges of their new culture.
Located on a beautiful rural site, the new church was designed to establish a comfortable environment by reflecting both the aesthetic and functional traditions of the largely Mexican congregation. Designed by KCBA Architects, the new 500-seat church was inspired by the famed Mission San Juan Capistrano in California. Highlights of the design include a stucco exterior, bell tower and cupola, retablo wall, and the reuse of furniture and appointments from other area churches. A simple axial floor plan will support a heavy reliance on processions during services. A large outdoor plaza will host the congregation’s extensive outdoor activities and events as well as lead to a formal, ceremonial entrance to the building.
The first national parish designated by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for Hispanics, the new church will celebrate its first mass on August 16, 2011 to coincide with the Feast of Saint Rocco.