Holy Cross opens its new church for a 'hands on, can do' parish
An ornate, hand-created olivewood cross draped in 24-karat gold captivates parishioners entering the new, but temporary, Holy Cross Catholic Church sanctuary at 2711 17th St. E. in West Fargo.
"This isn't our church. This is our social hall," says the Rev. James Meyer. "It's warm. It's a nice space to be able to see people and connect with them."
Since July, Holy Cross congregants have been settling into their new worship space.
In the meantime, fundraising continues toward building a permanent church. That's Phase II of a $15.3 million, 76,000-square-foot project that includes the 50,000-square-foot Trinity Elementary School that opened in August. The new church will be located on the north end of the current complex.
Diocesan policy requires Holy Cross to have the necessary funding pledged and 50 percent cash on hand to proceed, Meyer said.
The project's capital campaign was launched in 2008, the same year Meyer was appointed pastor. The 12-acre building site was chosen in 2011, with groundbreaking held in 2014.
The temporary multipurpose space now serves many functions, including being the church sanctuary. Feedback has been positive, Meyer said.
"By far, the majority are pleased and surprised that this space is so reverent and beautiful," he said. "They see it as a place to pray and have a prayerful experience."
Roofline and stained-glass windows refract natural light rays off arched wooden beams and onto hundreds of meticulously positioned chairs below.
"The most beautiful thing is the cross," Meyer said. "That was made by our parishioners hands."
"That's the kind of parish we have — hands on, can do," he said.
The cross will be moved to the completed church and artwork will be hung in its current place.
Holy Cross Catholic Church was formed in 1983 when land was purchased jointly with Lutheran Church of the Cross at 1420 16th St. E. in West Fargo.
The two congregations shared the space for 32 years until 2013, when it was sold to Lutheran Church of the Cross.
"Our growth and need for a larger facility is the reason we needed to move," Meyer said.
Holy Cross outgrew its previous 1,150-member, 350-375 seat church building. "There was no room. It was always crowded," he said.
The congregation of 1,400 families continues to grow, he said.
"This past Sunday at 9 a.m., it was packed full in here and with overflow seating," Meyer said. The current space seats about 450 with capability to expand to 550 seats using adjoining space.
When it's completed, the new church sanctuary will seat 1,200, he said.
About three years ago, congregation growth resulted in adding a 7:30 a.m. Mass on Sundays. Services are now held at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, at 7:30, 9 and 11 a.m. on Sunday, and at 6 p.m. (7 p.m. during summer) on Sunday evenings.