By Rosemary Daniels|Correspondent
The community of Holy Cross Parish, Rumson, celebrated another milestone Nov. 3, when Father Michael Manning, pastor, blessed the recently poured foundation and prayed over the area where work to build the larger church is set to commence.
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Father Manning organized the blessing so that the parishioners could get a closer look at the progress which has been made. “People can finally get some sense of the dimension of it and how it’s going to work, especially when they see the steel rising out of the ground,” Father Manning said. “It’s been hard for people to envision it among all the piles of dirt.”
Plans to enlarge the original church building, which dates back to 1886, and had a maximum capacity of about 200, were 20 years in the making. But the $5 million “A Time to Build” capital campaign completed in 2012 made the dream a reality. The new building incorporates a large portion of the original church, and blends the new portion in, using very traditional designs.
The front of the current church remains, from the front doors to the first set of windows. The new design will add two transepts, and extend the building past the original footprint to accommodate 600 people. In addition to the new foundation the back of the old church has been removed, and what remains of the original church has been brought down to the studs, to allow for the installation of updated heating, air conditioning and electrical wiring.
Even though the celebration of Mass has been temporarily moved to the school gymatorium, attendance has not suffered. At the 10:30 a.m. Mass held prior to the blessing, more than 500 enthusiastic parishioners, including families with young children as well as long-time parishioners, gathered, filling both the folding chairs on the gym floor, as well as the bleachers. After the Mass, members of the congregation carefully made their way around the construction site and into the new foundation of the church. Father Manning stood in the original portion of the church, which gave him a good vantage point on the crowd gathered below.
Father Manning offered a blessing, saying, “With faith in Jesus Christ, we lay this foundation on which a church will rise. May it be a place of sacrament and a source of grace.”
David Dowden, co-chair of the capital campaign, said, “The old church was near and dear to all of us in the parish. But it was in a state that suggested it was time to consider alteration and expansion. For the last century, this has been a church that has been enjoyed by so many families. We wanted to contribute to a place that will be used for many years to come.”
If construction continues on schedule, completion is expected by Christmas 2014.