The History of Saint Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Church
Fr. Frank Schuster was appointed to be our pastor beginning July 1, 2007. Prior to his assignment, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta parish was formally founded by Archbishop Alexander J. Brunett, with the appointment of the founding pastor, Fr. K. Scott Connolly, on 1 July 2004. One of the first duties assigned to Fr. Scott was to consult with potential parishioners and prepare a list of three names of possible patrons from which the Archbishop would choose one. The proposals were: Saint Juan Diego, Blessed Pope John XXIII, and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (becoming Saint Teresa in 2016).
Less than a year after her beatification, we were the first parish in the United States to be named as “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.” Her incredible model of discipleship and humble service to her community inspire us each day to follow her example as we grow our parish and its ministries.
From July through November of 2004, Fr. Scott’s mission was to build up parish membership from Woodinville-area Catholics in the neighboring parishes. By the First Sunday of Advent, November 28, nearly 800 people attended the first Eucharist of the Blessed Teresa community in the barn at the Woodinville Riding Club. Saturday evening liturgies were held for the next three months thanks to the hospitality of Wooden Cross Lutheran Church. On the First Sunday of Lent, February 13, 2005, we began renting the Leota Junior High School cafeteria from the Northshore School District on Sunday mornings, celebrating the Eucharist in both English and Spanish. During the beginning years, our community was also bilingual.
As we were only able to use Leota Jr. High on Sunday mornings, our daily and special events were often made possible by our interfaith and ecumenical neighbors. We were welcomed by Northshore United Church of Christ and Bear Creek United Methodist anytime we needed a place to meet. Woodinville Unitarian Universalist Church became our Holy Day sanctuary, often moving their own programs to accommodate our needs.
On 15 April 2007, the Archbishop announced to the parish that he had decided to reassign Fr. Scott to Assumption parish in Bellingham to lead that parish in the process of integrating what had become the largest Hispanic Catholic community in the Archdiocese into the parish community. The Archbishop also asked that our Hispanic ministries be reassigned to the pastor and pastoral staff of St. Brendan parish in Bothell.
Simultaneous to the transition of pastors, the lease Blessed Teresa enjoyed with Leota Jr. High was expiring. With the help of talented parishioners and our Archbishop, we found a new place to worship at Check Ride Driving School in Woodinville. After a busy two months of building the new worship space and renovating the new parish offices, Fr. Frank was installed by Archbishop Brunett as our new pastor on Gaudete Sunday, December 16.
Our chapel at Check Ride driving school was instrumental in the growth of our parish community. At Check Ride, we had a stable location for offices and worship. This enabled us to add more Mass times, begin a Sunday Faith Formation program for kids, an Edge/Lifeteen program for Junior High and High School youth, and many other programs. Our outreach ministry also flourished during this time with the founding of our St. Vincent de Paul, African Orphan support program, pro-life ministry, and other programs. Having a visible location in Woodinville was helpful for our parish growth as well.
From 2007-2009, Fr. Frank spent a lot of time working with parish leadership and the Archdiocese on developing a plan to build our first parish church before our Conditional Use Permit (CUP) expired in 2011. It was important to build before the permit expired because the new property laws enacted for our area would have made building a church on our site impossible. Other potential properties were explored as well, all of which were burdened by the same county restrictions given the state of the current building laws for our area. The verdict was either we start building on our existing property with the CUP we had by 2011 or our parish would likely not be building a parish church any time soon.
With this knowledge, in the Spring of 2009, our parish began its first capital campaign for the building of the new church. This campaign was called Forward in Faith, Building to Serve. There were several chapters to this campaign as parishioners will remember. Our finance council meanwhile worked closely with the Archdiocese to determine the loan we could obtain. This is because the cost to build a church, along with the associated site work costs and road work, was a lot higher than what we could do as a parish in a single capital campaign given our size at the time. Our finance council meanwhile modeled our growth for the future with surprising accuracy. The wisdom of our parish and archdiocesan leadership was; with future growth will come new parishioners who will join us in support of our ministry.
With the success of Forward in Faith Building to Serve, the help of a loan from the Archdiocese, and building permits in hand we were able to begin construction in the Spring of 2011, only a few months before our CUP was set to expire. On March 25th, 2012 Archbishop Sartain celebrated our dedication Mass at our new parish home in Woodinville. Archbishop Emeritus Brunett and Fr. Scott Connelly joined Fr. Frank Schuster to celebrate with the real heroes of the day, the parishioners of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.
In September of 2016, Fr. Frank led a pilgrimage of 85 parishioners to Rome, Italy for the September 4th canonization of Mother Teresa by Pope Francis. With Mother Teresa’s canonization, her name was officially elevated to “Saint” Teresa of Calcutta. During her ministry, Saint Teresa was often quoted as saying, “Do small things with great love.” We honor her most and carry on her mission by living out those simple words.