While the project took nearly two years from groundbreaking to dedication to complete, the project's origins date back much further, according to Father Scott L. Raef, pastor.
"This project dates back to 2007, when parish leadership met with me to discuss the pending growth of Dalhart and the future of the parish," he
"It was from that meeting that a plan began to be formed."
In the spring of 2009, drawings for the new building were approved and ground was broken on Oct. 25, 2009.
It was shortly after ground was broken that the plan was altered, according to Father Raef
"I have learned a lot about construction dreams and realities during this process," he
said many of the changes in plans also came from a great deal of input from parishioners and the members of the Building Committee
"We were able to catch some things in the construction process that we could see just wouldn't work as well as they appeared in the designs," he
"Also, when we began to get into some of our older buildings, it became clear that some things would have to be redone.
Our school floor had to be replaced.
Our church choir loft was unstable and thus necessitated tearing it out and relocating that necessary space to another area.
All in all, some of the changes were aesthetic; others necessary from a financial standpoint and still others were simply practical."
Having watched this from the beginning of the process with the members of the building committee, was the final product beyond your expectations, Father Raef?
"Really, nothing has shocked me too much," he
So after all the events of Sept. 10-11, what will Father Raef
do on Sept. 12?
"I keep telling the parishioners that I can't wait to get back to being a priest rather than a paint color chooser, a fund raiser or a worrier over details," he said, smiling.
"Really, so many of our parishioners have shouldered much of the burden of money details and construction oversight.
But I do miss the necessary time to do things that make being a parish priest so wonderful such as kicking the ball on the playground with the school children, going to basketball games to watch the youth, visiting parishioners in their homes and keeping theologically up-to date with daily reading and study.
"I anticipate on September 12 I'll take a deep breath and take the next step in the journey of St. Anthony's
Parish; that is, to filling the new buildings with worship, community, service and faith formation that are the marks of Catholic communities that are indeed alive."
In the Sunday, Sept. 18 issue of The West Texas Catholic: a recap of the Sept. 10 Dedication Mass and Father Raef
talks about the features of St. Anthony of Padua Church