Work is well under way on construction of a new complex for St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, and parishioners will gather this weekend to help consecrate the most recently completed phase of the job.

Work is well under way on construction of a new complex for St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, and parishioners will gather this weekend to help consecrate the most recently completed phase of the job.

The church will host a public ceremony on Saturday to dedicate the second phase of the project by consecrating the church's new activity center. The new building is large enough to accommodate more than 1,000 parishioners, according to parish development director Helmut Naunheimer.

"This phase of the project includes a new activities center which is large enough to accommodate 1,200 for church services, as well as serving as a large athletic facility and multi-purpose space for meetings and other events," Naunheimer said.

Consecration proceedings will begin at the church with Mass performed at 6 p.m. Saturday, June 28. A short dedication and consecration will follow the Mass at the center, Naunheimer said, with both ceremonies performed by Bishop Frederick Campbell, Bishop of Columbus. Those attending will be able to follow Bishop Campbell through the center as he blesses the building and take part in a brief reception afterward.

The public is welcome to attend, Naunheimer said.

With a church body of approximately 4,200 households comprised of 13,000-13,500 parishioners, St. Paul's regularly hosts 10 Masses a weekend -- a number that will drop to seven with when the center is put to use in September.

Phase One of the church's master plan was completed last summer. It included updates to the church's school including revamped heating and air conditioning, as well as new windows.

According to plans provided to the city's planning commission, the three-phase expansion project will cost between $12.5- and $15-million. The existing church, which currently has seating for about 650, will be replaced by a facility with room for 1,651, and will include more traditional architecture, a larger gathering space, more natural lighting, crying rooms for infants, handicapped seating, a gift shop and other additions.

Construction on all aspects of the project could be completed by summer 2010, according to the plan.

Work on the new worship building will begin in spring 2009, with completion tentatively scheduled for Christmas 2010, Naunheimer said. He added that the new activities center will be put to good use in the meantime.

"We have thousands of kids involved in our parish athletic program, and this is going to be a welcome addition for them," Naunheimer said. "I think (the building) is wonderful. I really love the exterior design. Part of our master plan is to bring in new architecture, and we're doing that through different colors and techniques to blend the existing building to look more like our new building. Everything will be very uniform."

The consecration ceremony for St. Paul's new activity center begins with Mass at 6 p.m. Saturday at the church, 313 N. State St.