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Wendy Reuer, Published April 11 2014

Catholics to break ground soon on new church and school in West Fargo

WEST FARGO – Construction will begin soon on a Catholic church and elementary school here, making the dual-purpose site home to the fifth Catholic school and one of the largest sanctuaries in the metro area.

Construction crews will break ground April 24 on a roughly 12-acre site at 2820 Bluestem Drive, which will be the home of Holy Cross Catholic Church and Trinity Elementary School.

Construction on the 76,000 square-foot site is expected to be finished by next year.

The school must be ready for occupancy by July 15, 2015, said Earl Wilhelm, property manager for the Fargo Diocese. “The church doesn’t necessarily have a deadline.”

Bishop John Folda of the Diocese of Fargo said the $15.3 million, 76,000-square-foot project has been in the works for seven years, while West Fargo has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the diocese.

In December, Holy Cross Church sold its building at 1420 16th St. E. in West Fargo to the Lutheran Church of the Cross after the two churches shared a site for almost 30 years.

Both churches outgrew their respective houses, and Holy Cross already had tapped the southern West Fargo site as a place to grow. Holy Cross members will continue to attend at the current site until the new church is completed.

“It’s been talked about for a long time, and different options were explored, including building on the current location,” Folda said. “Unfortunately, the space there was inadequate and wouldn’t work for the current needs and anticipated growth. With the additional elementary school and facility upgrades, we can successfully support Catholic advancement in this area. The entire faith community will benefit.”

The Rev. James Meyer at Holy Cross said the new church will have a main sanctuary that can seat about 1,000, which is double the worship space available now.

Holy Cross has almost tripled in size since the mid-1990s. It now serves about 1,300 families, Meyer said.

The new church building will have room for additional offices and a separate daily Mass chapel that can seat 70.

The new school will have space for two classes each of pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, and will feature a full gym, media center and two outdoor play areas.

“Ideally, we are shooting for 25 to 30 students per classroom,” Wilhelm said.

The church and school will share an adjoining kitchen and dining area, where students will be served lunch and parishioners can attend events on Sundays.

The school will join the Blessed John Paul II Catholic Schools Network, which is comprised of four schools in Fargo: Holy Spirit and Nativity Elementary, which serve kindergarten through fifth-grade, Sullivan Middle School for grades six through eight, and Shanley High School in Fargo.

“It is a network school that will be owned by us but run by (the district),” Meyer said.

Trinity Elementary school will accommodate West Fargo, Horace and Wild Rice residents, Folda said.

The district and Holy Cross Church will pay the cost of construction for the buildings.

Holy Cross has set aside about $4 million, and almost $8 million has been raised by the schools network as part of a “Together Campaign,” which is a network-wide campaign to pay for the building and make improvements at Shanley High School, said Aliceyn Magelky, director of communications for the Fargo Diocese.

The school will finance the remaining portion of construction through a loan.

The church plans a groundbreaking ceremony at noon April 24 at the site.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530