St. Ann's Catholic Church has been planning a major expansion since 1960.
That year, the fledgling church completed its “basement sanctuary,” which they hoped eventually would sit under a larger structure on its Park Road property. But funding and planning issues delayed it for decades.
“Several times the church has tried to get together the money to finish the building, but just wasn't able to,” said the Rev. Timothy Reid, St. Ann's pastor.
In 2003, a new push started. The church raised more than $1.5 million, and St. Ann's broke ground for its new sanctuary in September.
Reid said the building project has been a combined effort of church leaders and parishioners.
“We've been waiting for this for so long, and there's so much excitement about this project,” Reid said.
Creating a reverent space
The congregation wanted its new building to be a “traditional, beautiful church,” and they hoped to find stained-glass windows for it.
The church's architect found a church in Pennsylvania that was closing and selling its set of antique windows.
“(The architect) said they would be perfect for our building,” Reid said. “There is even a window of St. Ann in the collection.”
Reid took the idea of buying the windows – valued at $1,000 a square foot – to the congregation.
The 4-by-12-foot windows would cost $25,000 each, but his congregation stepped up to the challenge.
Families have bought windows or gone in with other families. Two groups are raising money to sponsor windows, one to honor immigrants and one as a “pro-life window,” Reid said.
Twelve of the 18 windows have been sponsored, Reid said. The church has made a down payment on the windows, which are being cleaned in Statesville.
The St. Ann's congregation has moved out of its basement sanctuary, setting up makeshift worship sites in its cafeteria and activity center.
“We did some renovations in the cafeteria, brought over the altar and statues and set up church in there,” Reid said. “It's a little tight, but it's working.”
When the congregation moves into its new sanctuary, planned for October, it will be a “dramatic change,” Reid said.
The building plans – the fourth set – call for removing the roof and building up the walls. The sanctuary will have a 27-foot ceiling, much taller than the old one.
Reid said the plans will preserve the “homey feel” of the church that some parishioners have loved for decades, and it will have a “simple but noble” atmosphere.
He said the new building has generated a lot of excitement.
“I think it's going to energize our parish community,” he said. “…I think it's really going to heighten our sense of awareness of God and deepen our love for him.”