Take a tour: Old and new come together at Melrose church

After nearly five years of planning and construction, St. Mary Church in Melrose dedicated a new building Nov. 21.

When the 118-year-old church building was heavily damaged by fire in March 2016, the parish of about 1,100 families had to overcome disagreements about how to move forward but began planning for construction of the new church.

Ken Griesemer of Kenneth J. Griesemer and Associates in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was hired as the liturgical design consultant and worked closely with the parish building committee. HMA Architects of St. Cloud designed the church, which was built by Breitbach Construction of Elrosa in cooperation with many subcontractors.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the new church, which is located on Kraft Drive S.E., south of the parish cemetery, was held in May 2019. The building includes the new worship space, bell tower, a 105-foot cross, narthex/gathering space, parish offices and a conference room.








The view from the altar to the entrance of the worship space. As parishioners enter and look up, they see a mobile of silk panels created by Minneapolis artist Kristen Weller. It is located above the baptismal font and is always moving, like the water in the font. “It’s always moving just a little bit, just like our lives,” said Bob Leukam, a member of the parish’s building committee.













Liturgical items in the church are all touchable, or at least reachable, to make it easy for children to see. Some parishioners have commented that this statue of Mary should be higher than eye level. “But then you tell them that it’s an encounter, and they understand,” said Father Marv Enneking, pastor.
















The three stained-glass windows behind the tabernacle in the adoration chapel are from the old church and were refurbished by Stonehouse Stained Glass Studio in Avon. The windows — the Ark, the Adoring Angels and the Lamb — were chosen because they tell the story of salvation.












The baptismal font is partially made of granite and sits exactly on the spot where a wooden cross marked the property for the new church before construction. In September 2018, a special Mass was celebrated under a tent where the building would be, and parishioners were invited to write prayer intentions on slips of paper that were then buried under the cross. Those slips of paper are still there, now under the baptismal font.














The Stations of the Cross were saved when the old church was damaged and were refurbished by a St. Mary’s parishioner. Pictured above is the first station.















The cross, which stands to the side of the sanctuary, is made of wood salvaged from the pillars of the fire-damaged church. The corpus was hand-carved in Oberammergau, Germany. The decision was made to put the cross on the floor instead of suspending it above the altar so people are able to touch it while they pray, which is very important to the parish’s Latino community.
A set of 16-foot-tall doors separate the sanctuary and the adoration chapel. They can be closed when needed for adoration as well as during Mass.

Author: Dianne Towalski

Dianne Towalski is a multimedia reporter for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

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