Campaign for the completion of Pope John Paul II Activity Center

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The area that is now Pleasanton was a quiet, tree-filled valley until 1839 when it was established by Don Augustin Bernal. By the time it was incorporated 30 years later, the town’s rich agricultural resources had made it a major railroad depot with a population of nearly 500. For many years, the local Catholic community had to travel a full day to Dublin or Livermore for religious services. The first church on Rose Avenue, named St. Augustine in honor of the town’s founder, opened in 1883 but was served by priests from Mission San Jose until it became a parish in 1901 with Fr. Thomas McNaboe as pastor.

Pleasanton’s growth accelerated after World War II reaching over 2,000 residents by 1950. Appointed pastor in 1965, Fr. Edmond Cloutier knew the existing church was badly in need of major repairs. The diocese allowed the church on Rose to be exchanged for a larger site on Angela Street. With the rectory completed in 1967, the 900-seat church opened on Palm Sunday the following year and the hall soon after. By the time Fr. Cloutier retired in 1981, the debt on the church had been paid and the peaceful grotto added.

By 1980 Pleasanton was an active bedroom community at the junction of two major freeways with a population of 35,000. Appointed pastor in 1985, Fr. Dan Danielson saw that new families were quickly expanding the faith formation program and other ministries. It had taken 90 years to outgrow the first church, but barely 20 to outgrow the second. Fr. Danielson proposed an innovative plan – instead of a separate new parish, a mission church would be created under the banner of the Catholic Community of Pleasanton (CCOP) on a diocesan owned site at the north end of town that could be developed in phases, allowing clergy and staff to be shared. Groundbreaking was held in 1990 for the first phase of the new facility, named after the American saint, St. Elizabeth Seton, and the chapel and offices opened the following year. According to the plan, the hall was to be built next, but overcrowded masses forced a shift in priorities and the 800-seat church was completed instead, opening on Ash Wednesday in 2000.

The continued, exciting growth of our community and ministries made clear the need for a major general purpose activity and meeting facility at the site to support a wide range of parish activities. In 2005, plans were initiated for the Pope John Paul II Activity Center with a capital campaign. As contributions accrued to support construction, dramatic building cost increases in 2006 and 2007 necessitated dividing the project into two components. At a $6.2 million cost target at construction start in late 2007, the gym/hall was constructed on time and on budget, opening in November 2008. The capital campaign funds accumulated prior to construction, foundation grants, and other sources contributed $4.8 million toward this cost.

© 2011 Catholic Community of Pleasanton-July 5, 2011