Parishioners at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church West Fargo were heartened by the news last week from Bishop Samuel J. Aquila that their parish would not be merging with Holy Cross Catholic Church, but instead would remain open and continue to operate as its own viable parish.
In January Bishop Aquila had announced a proposal to merge the parish with Holy Cross Catholic Church, along with several other changes within the Fargo Catholic Diocese.
Father Bert Miller, pastor at Blessed Sacrament said he was "most thankful" for the news admitting that the content did take him a little bit by surprise. "We're delighted to know that we are going to stay open and that we don't have to merge or go through that whole process," he stated. "We are really pleased with the outcome and delighted to be able to continue to be ourselves as a welcoming presence of Christ in our neighborhood."
Father Miller added that even though there were difficult times last winter with parishioners trying to deal with what the outcome might be the whole process was a good one making everyone and their resolve a whole lot stronger. "We are much tighter with each other and more focused on our goals and just much more excited overall as a faith community."
Late last month, it was announced that Holy Cross would be relocating in two to three years to a newly constructed church building with seating for 900 on undeveloped property south of Interstate 94 and west of Veterans Boulevard. Also included would be a Catholic school, with two classrooms per grade, and a Religious Education Formation facility.
Interestingly, it was the staff and parishioners at Blessed Sacrament Church who suggested during the discussion phase a larger more centralized Catholic elementary school, with two classrooms per grade instead of the one originally proposed.
As an additional part of the plan, the boundaries for both parishes will be refined and Blessed Sacrament parish will participate in the subsidy for metro area Catholic schools beginning with five percent of the offertory as of July 1, 2012, and increasing by one percent each July 1 thereafter until the new Catholic school at Holy Cross is completed.
At that time, the percentage of subsidy will be adjusted by increments determined by the bishop in consultation with the board of directors of the metro area Catholic schools.
Blessed Sacrament parishioners will be included in the capital campaign for construction of the Catholic school on the Holy Cross campus, because the new elementary school will provide an excellent Catholic school option for Blessed Sacrament families. In his announcement Bishop Aquila said he was "thankful for the proposal from Blessed Sacrament supporting Catholic schools and the construction of a centralized West Fargo/Horace area Catholic elementary school."
Commenting on the subsidy, Father Miller said he was happy about the goals set by the Diocese for Blessed Sacrament's participation. "The percentage is a reasonable way to start the process for us. It is not excessive and it should be easy for us to meet until the new school is built."
It was also proposed in January that St. Benedict's Parish be relocated to currently undeveloped property northeast of the intersection of 64th Avenue South and County Road 17 in Horace and that a Catholic school be built at that site.
That plan is still in the works with a church structure also to accommodate 900 parishioners; however the original proposal for a school on the site has been scrapped until 2020 when the need will be revisited and reevaluated.
Participation in the subsidy for metro area Catholic schools will be delayed for St. Benedict Parish until construction of the new church is completed, with the subsidy anticipated to begin in July of 2017.
The St. Benedict Parish cemetery will be maintained in its present historical location; and if it is the wish of the parish, for historical purposes, to keep the current Church building or portions of it, these may be part of the new site plan also.
It was also stated that plans to "cluster" St. Anthony's and St. Mary's, both in Fargo, will not occur; however, the parishes will have collaborative ministry development and other changes but a resident pastor and some staff will remain on site at both locations.
If you'd like to learn more, details of the entire proposal are available by visiting www.fargodiocese.org.