St. Mary Parish in Melrose broke ground on a new church building May 19.
After a short debate about the morning’s pouring rain, the committee planning the groundbreaking ceremony decided to go ahead with it. Members of the committees working on the project gathered under and around a small tent on the future site for a blessing and photos as some parishioners watched from their cars.
“We can’t do anything about the weather,” said events committee member Dianne Budde. “But rain makes things grow,” she said. “I’m excited and just really grateful that we’ve been able to work through all of our problems and get to this point.”
All of the contractors have been selected and the next step is to begin construction, St. Mary’s pastor, Father Marvin Enneking said.
“It always takes a couple of weeks for them to get all the different people involved, to get their crews together and get organized, but we’re looking at probably the second week of June,” he said. “Everything is just really coming together.”
The construction site is on Kraft Drive S.E., south of the parish cemetery and a few blocks from the existing church.
Father Enneking said he’s elated to be at this point and is grateful to everyone involved in the process, including the parish council, finance council, trustees, building team and subcommittee members.
The parish has had to overcome some disagreements about how to move ahead after the old church building burned in March 2016.
“We’re living the Paschal Mystery,” Father Enneking said. “So there’s suffering, and there’s death, and also there’s resurrection. So that’s what we’re living and looking to do. We will rise again.”
The parish has taken to heart Bishop Donald Kettler’s recommendations through the Diocesan Building Commission to build a 21st-century church, he said.
“It’s built in the spirit of hospitality and welcome — that all are welcome, physical disabilities or not. Included in that would certainly be the diversity of the community as the Latino presence continues to grow.”
Bishop Kettler, in his recommendations, also wanted the building committee to keep the youth of the parish in mind, Father Enneking said.
“This is very much a part of that as well, with technology and those kinds of things too,” he said. “The worship space will really be one of not only welcome, but participation. And everyone is around that table, is involved in participating and engaged in what we are celebrating.”
The new church is expected to be completed next summer.
Last March, the parish officially launched a $2.4 million “Forward in Faith” capital campaign. Money raised by the campaign, along with the insurance settlement from the fire, will provide the funds needed for construction to begin phase one of the new church campus. The church will include the new worship space, bell tower, covered canopy entrance, narthex/gathering space and an administration center.