EDMONDS – After a decade of sharing space at St. Alphonsus Church in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, North American Martyrs Parish will move into its own building — a former Lutheran church — later this year.
Having a permanent space means a lot to the 528 parishioners of NAM, as it’s known, said the pastor, Father Joseph Heffernan of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.
After praying to Mary each Sunday for some two years, “there’s finally a place they can call their own and feel like they’re at home,” said Father Heffernan, who has been at NAM since his ordination in 2014.
A statue of Mary watches over the new home of North American Martyrs Parish in Edmonds. For about two years, the parish prayed to Mary each Sunday for help in finding a building. Photo: Brian LeBlanc
Founded in 2008, North American Martyrs celebrates the Latin Mass (the extraordinary form of the Roman rite), drawing members from as far away as Bellingham, Anacortes and North Bend. Over the last 10 years, NAM has searched for a suitable home close to a major freeway, looking at 40 different properties before the church building in Edmonds came up for sale in early May, Father Heffernan said.
Located a short drive from Interstate 5, the property at 9924 232nd St. S.W. is “almost exactly where we need to be in the archdiocese,” Father Heffernan said. The $3.4 million purchase was finalized August 2.
Shortly afterward, Father Heffernan took a statue of Mary from outside his parish rectory in northwest Seattle and placed it in a field overlooking the new building.
For about two years, the parish has ended each Sunday Mass with “the Marian hymn of the season in petition to Our Lady to find a church,” Father Heffernan explained in an email. “On the first day that the church was ours, I put the statue there in thanksgiving for her intercession, to place it under her maternal protection, and to claim it for the Catholic Church.”
Parish plans renovations
Built in 1969, the 14,000-square-foot church has seating for about 240 people, with overflow seating in the vestibule for 100 more, Father Heffernan said. The church includes a social hall across from the sanctuary and a gym and classrooms in the basement.
About 450 people attend the parish’s two Sunday Masses each week, one at St. Alphonsus and the other at Holyrood Cemetery in Shoreline, Father Heffernan said.
“We’re moving into a smaller church, knowing that it is probably something we are going to grow out of,” he said. “We want to grow out of it fast, but right now we need to make the move to our own place.”
The building doesn’t have the traditional Catholic style of St. Alphonsus, but given the increase in local real estate values, “we shouldn’t expect to find a church like St. Alphonsus for a realistic price,” Father Heffernan said.
Plans for renovations are underway, including installing high and side altars and decorating the sanctuary “in a way that’s appropriate for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,” he said.
North American Martyrs Parish will move to its first permanent home, a former Lutheran church in Edmonds, later this year. Photo: Brian LeBlanc
Also under consideration are expanding the worship space into the vestibule, turning the social hall into an overflow area and converting the classrooms into a parish hall.
The nearly 2-acre property includes a large field, which may have to be partly converted into a parking lot to supplement the existing 43 parking stalls, Father Heffernan said. The property also has the potential as the site for a larger church, he said.
“We are realizing that there may have to be several phases of work … [that] may take more time than originally thought,” the pastor wrote.
But the goal is to start celebrating Mass in the new church by December 1, the first Sunday of Advent and the beginning of the new liturgical year, he said.
North American Martyrs Parish by the numbers
• Has grown to 528 parishioners since its founding in 2008
• 68 percent of parishioners are under age 45
• 20 baptisms, 30 first Communions, 20 Confirmations, 10 weddings in 2018
Source: North American Martyrs Parish