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Bishop announces relocation plans for Holy Cross Church

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It appears Holy Cross Catholic Church in West Fargo will be relocating to a new site on undeveloped land west of Veterans Boulevard in West Fargo and south of I-94 in order to meet development and growth needs in the community. The church is presently situated adjacent to Lutheran Church of the Cross at 1420 16th St. E., West Fargo.

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The announcement came last week in a letter mailed to Holy Cross parishioners by the Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fargo, who announced the first of several decisions related to a year-long review of parishes and Catholic schools in West Fargo, Fargo and Horace.

The letter stated, "the decision regarding Holy Cross Church came about after reviewing all of the input submitted by the faithful, then meeting with the diocesan Presbyteral Council and the Holy Cross Finance/Pastoral Council. With this input and counsel, we are ready to implement this plan for the future of Holy Cross Church."

According to the announcement, plans for a newly constructed Holy Cross Parish will begin immediately, along with a dual purpose Catholic school and Religious Education Formation facility, on approximately 14 acres of land, bordered by 26th Avenue East to the north, 7th Street East to the west, and Bluestem Drive to the east.

Holy Cross has been operating at its present location since 1981 with approximately 1,200 families presently members. The current church has seating for approximately 425 while the new location would have room for over double that amount 900per service.

A capital campaign had already been undertaken to raise funds for expansion of Holy Cross at its present site, but an informational sheet that accompanied the letter said limitations of space at that site prompted the consideration of other options. After discussion with city officials and other involved entities, it was determined that building a school on the present Holy Cross site as originally discussed was not possible because of parking limitations and traffic flow for a school.

Also signed by Father James Meyer, pastor of Holy Cross, the letter went on to say, "Expectations are to continue worshipping in the current facility for at least two more years."

Comments also addressed the current shared facility status for Holy Cross and Lutheran Church of the Cross. "We will miss our close relationship with Lutheran Church of the Cross and will continue collaboration as possible. Just as a growing family changes neighborhoods to accommodate its needs, our growing Church family is doing the same. Our loving connection to our neighbor brothers and sisters will be a part of who we are and the stories we tell of our history. We are hopeful that this transition will open new doors of opportunity for their congregation, as well."

The letter went out to parishioners Tuesday, April 26, with the diocese making the media announcement on Wednesday, April 27.

In a telephone interview Monday, Father Meyer said he was initially surprised by the news and wished to inform parishioners as quickly as possible before they heard about it elsewhere. "I was shocked but I can see value in it as well. It was not my expectation but I can see the situation realistically and will try to make the best of whatever situation is asked."

He said since the announcement, the majority of feedback he has been receiving is "very, very positive. Everyone on the parish council is open to it, agreeing it is in the best interest of our church. There are a few that have longtime ties and issues with how the information came to them, but the great majority are open to the opportunity that has been presented to them and will make it work to their best ability."

"I was asked to help lead this new project and I am positively optimistic that it will continue to help our community as it grows. Every time we have these new opportunities that we are asked to enter into there are many other blessings that come about because of it. We are going to try and make as many opportunities come alive as we possibly can."

Father Meyer said "a future meeting is being planned with parishioners to go over how this all came about as well as what direction we as a parish are gong to take in the planning procedure." The date and time for this meeting will be announced as soon as plans are firmed up.

The Holy Cross announcement is the first of several to affect the Fargo Diocese, driven in part, by the growth and shifting of population in the metro area.

In January 2011, a proposal for parishes and schools was announced that included the closing of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, two new elementary schools being added in the diocese, including the one at Holy Cross, as well as one at a relocated site for St. Benedict's Wild Rice.

Parishioners also provided feedback in writing through letters and via a comment form on the diocesan website.

The fate of Blessed Sacrament along with other action regarding other parishes remains unknown with decisions regarding all other aspects of the proposal expected to be announced early this month.

The letter and information sheet regarding Holy Cross Church, and other information related to the review, can be found at: www.fargodiocese.org/review.

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