After years of planning, Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church has rolled out a proposal for a new, Gothic-style church to be built on the church campus in Old Mandeville.
Parishioners received a conceptual drawing of the church, which features tiered towers and ornate windows, during Easter Mass. The Rev. John Talamo told his parishioners that the plans have been approved by the Archdiocese of New Orleans.Though the building is still years away from becoming a reality, Talamo said he hopes the new church will provide much-needed space for parishioners and a design that will be accepted by the community.“The whole parish is really excited about it. It’s going to be a beautiful addition to the city of Mandeville,” Talamo said.
Church leaders have been discussing the new building for about three years and approached Mandeville officials about their plans last year, Talamo said. The parish plans to build the structure on the opposite side of Lafitte Street from the existing church, on property that is now home to classrooms at the church’s school.Though the design was unveiled, parish officials and architects have not worked out the details of the proposal, and it is not clear how tall the church will be or how much space it will occupy, Talamo said. The church, which would not be completed for at least four years, will seat about 1,100 people, more than twice as many as today, Talamo said. The additional space is necessary to accommodate the parish’s 5,600-family congregation, the largest in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Because of the lack of space in the existing church, some Masses are held in the school gymnasium, known as the Chotin Center, Talamo said.“This is not to meet a future need, it’s to meet the current need,” he said.
Gothic style wins over modern design
The Gothic style of the church was chosen after parish committees rejected the idea of a church with a “modern” design, Talamo said.Officials plan to keep the old church building, the third built since the parish was founded in 1850, but it is not yet known how it would be used.Talamo said it was unclear how much the new construction would cost but said the money would come from members of the parish. Donations for the new building have already been collected, though Talamo declined to say how much has been raised so far.
Though city planners have discussed the building with church officials, they have not yet received a proposal for the site, Planning and Development Director Louisette Kidd said.
Zoning panel approval needed
Before construction can begin, the parish will need approval from Mandeville’s Zoning Commission, Kidd said. The members of that board will have to evaluate the building and determine whether it is compatible with nearby properties, she said.In such an evaluation, board members will look at issues such as traffic and parking that could affect nearby businesses and residents, but they will not focus on aesthetic concerns, she said.The Zoning Commission will be empowered to put restrictions on any proposal that comes forward to mitigate any negative effects, she said.Such a process will take several months and involve numerous public meetings and discussions with neighbors, she said.Talamo said he has already had discussions with some neighbors and said he hopes businesses will see the new church as a benefit, noting that increased space and parking might attract more parishioners to spend time in Old Mandeville restaurants and shops after Mass.“Instead of rushing out to avoid traffic jams, they’ll take their time to enjoy Old Mandeville,” Talamo said. “It should be mutually advantageous.”