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Berkeley Co. church to build on farmland

April 17, 1998

By AMY WALLAUER

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

INWOOD, W.Va. - Berkeley County's schools aren't the only buildings faced with rapid growth. Some churches are feeling the crunch.

In just 15 years, the congregation at St. Leo Roman Catholic Church in Inwood has grown from 100 to 1,600 people. This week, the Rev. Brian Shoda announced his plan to build anew.

"We're going to build a whole new parish facility, everything," Shoda said. "When this was built in 1982, there was about 100 people. Now we've got about 670 families. It's really growing. It's wonderful."

The existing building is on about six acres. On Monday, the church purchased 134 acres of farmland about two miles from the current site on Sulphur Springs Road.

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Shoda said the church originally planned to add on to the existing building but a recent renovation, which was expected to alleviate some of the overcrowding, brought more attention to the lack of space.

"We did a big renovation to our Sunday School area. We hoped that would cover us for a while. It was full the first day we opened," Shoda said. "We realized we had to abandon the idea of just building on to this church."

The farm was purchased for $410,000 - money saved by the church and congregation for additions. Shoda said he hopes to get construction rolling on the $3 million to $3.5 million project by the spring of 1999.

"It's kind of aggressive, but we're just busting at the seams," Shoda said. "We'll continue to stay here until we're built. When we build a new church facility, we'll sell this one."

Shoda said the congregation has big plans for the sprawling farmland - a church, rectory, parish hall, office and Sunday school space, soccer and softball fields and a picnic pavilion. There is even potential for a school, Shoda said.

He's also hoping some of the property could be sold and developed for housing as a way to recover some of the church's expenses.

A design for a church was done when the parish intended to build on the current property, so that design will be used.

Shoda anticipates construction will be completed in time for Easter of 2000.

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