CALEXICO — A joyous crowd gathered on Tuesday morning at Vincent Memorial Catholic High School for the long-awaited groundbreaking for a new classroom building.
The new building will house eight classrooms, a science lab and a chapel. The project is expected to be completed by the 2020-21 school year and caps years of fundraising efforts.
“(The groundbreaking) is the day we have been waiting for and have worked so hard for the last five years,” Sister Lupita Hernandez, campus principal, told those gathered. “I truly believe everything happens in God’s time for a reason.”
Initial plans had called for construction to begin in the summer of 2018, but had to be delayed on account of a shortage of funds, Hernandez said.
During her remarks, Hernandez recounted how a visit last year to the Catholic Diocese of San Diego to provide an update about the project’s financial shortfall left her heartbroken.
Though the diocese had contributed a $500,000 grant and a $500,000 loan to the project, the campus still lacked enough funds for the $3.7 million project, she said.
Ultimately, prayer, generous donations and parent-teacher organization sponsored events would combine to secure the remainder of the needed funds, Hernandez said.
“All of our work, every donation and prayer confirmed our strong belief in Catholic education and the sacrifices we’re willing to undertake to build a 21st century facility to better serve the young people of today and many more generations to come,” she said.
The project will allow the school to remove several outdated portable classrooms that have been in use for about the past 20 years. As part of the project’s phase 1, a parking lot will be created on the campus’ east side, too.
The campus was established in 1949 as the Our Lady of Guadalupe Academy, and solely had allowed girls to enroll at the time.
It currently has about 240 students enrolled and has the capacity to accommodate 420.
The land that the campus currently sits on was purchased in 1966 and since then has had more than 2,000 students graduate. It remains the Valley’s sole Catholic high school.
Plans are already underway to continue fundraising efforts to raise an additional $1.5 million to renovate two existing buildings on campus.
“Although we have come to an exciting milestone of our journey, this is just the beginning,” Hernandez said.
Tuesday’s ceremony was preceded by Mass at the campus. Bishop Robert W. McElroy, of the Catholic Diocese of San Diego, was also on hand during the groundbreaking ceremony to offer a blessing for the project and to thank generous donors.
“The majority of the support came from here in the Valley and Mexico,” McElroy told the sizable crowd of students, faculty, staff and alumni.
Those interested in donating to the project’s phase 2 renovation work can do so by contacting the school at (760) 357-3461, sending a check or going to the campus’ website at www.vmchs.com and clicking on the donate link.