Growing Belmont parish plans ahead to build new church
BELMONT — For nearly 50 years parishioners of Queen of the Apostles Church in Belmont have used a converted gymnasium as their church, but within a few years that could change. The parish is getting under way with a campaign to build a new church to serve the growing Catholic community just west of Charlotte. It will be a long, detailed process, but it's one the parish thinks will be well worth the effort.
The old gym has "served the community well for a lot of years," says Father Frank Cancro, pastor, because for decades Belmont had been "a bit of a sleepy community." Then, in the 1970s "when the mills closed down, there didn't seem like there was going to be much growth in the area...so the parish still wasn't very large. But with the development that has happened, especially in the last 15 years or more, Belmont has seen some significant growth and the parish has grown significantly."
Pictured: Parishioners crowd into Queen of the Apostles Church in Belmont during a recent Sunday Mass. (Ty Reamer | Catholic News Herald)
In 2007, the parish was comprised of about 460 families. Now, there are almost 900 families. Current growth in the parish is projected at between 80 and 100 families each year.
With the 50th anniversary of the parish approaching in 2015, Father Cancro says, he would like to plan ahead for a new building that could house the growing congregation. "I would like to have something significant here, at least a big significant hole in the ground or a building," he says.
Parishioners have been meeting and forming early plans for a potential building campaign. But there are still many steps ahead for the parish community before any plans can be realized and shovels can be dug into the ground. Those steps cover both the planning as well as the construction of any new church or parish building, and involve many parish and diocesan leaders throughout the process.
First, a pastor must get approval from the chancellor, Monsignor Mauricio West, to begin the planning process and develop a master site plan. Then the design plans for the new worship space must be approved by the diocesan Office of Worship, and a financial plan must be approved by the diocesan Properties and Finance offices. Then the entire project has to go before the diocesan Building Committee for its review. Only after all those steps have been completed may the parish start a capital fund-raising campaign – and even after all that, the parish must have half the cost of the total project in cash in the bank, and at least another 30 percent raised in pledges, before it can break ground. Only 20 percent of a large capital campaign can be financed through a loan, and it must be planned to be paid off within 10 years.
No matter the work involved, though, those who see firsthand the increasingly crowded Belmont parish think the goal is worth working toward.
The parish received permission in 2010 from the diocese to begin the project. The parish hired WKWW Architectural Firm in Charlotte, a firm that exclusively designs churches, and drew up a rough master site plan. No detailed architectural plans have been decided yet, though, and the parish still has to explore how it would pay for the entire project. These decisions will require more committees, more input from the parishioners and more guidance from diocesan leaders.
Parishioner Austin Berrong has attended Queen of the Apostles Church since 2008, and a year later he came into the Catholic Church along with his mother and sister. He remembers, "It was crowded when I first came to the parish, but we only had two Masses on Sunday. Now we have more Masses and it's still crowded. It'll be nice to have more space for the growing parish."
"Right now we're maxed out. We have five Masses on the weekend," Father Cancro adds. "We, unfortunately, have to turn people away some Sundays because of fire regulations. That's terrible. On the one hand, I guess, that's good, but on the other hand that's terrible."
But Father Cancro is also quick to point out that the project is "certainly much bigger than just providing pew space." Not only is the space in the church too small, but, he adds, "the worship space we have now is just not adequate. It's not just an issue of room for seating, there's not adequate room to move around to do rituals well. The sidelines are not adequate, the choir is not in an appropriate place, and some of the furniture is too big. So there's a need not just to create more seating, but to create a worship space that has a certain harmony to it that not only worships God but gives the community that sense of gathering to be church for its sacraments."
The parish would also like appropriate space for faith formation programs.
"Right now the education takes place across the street," Berrong says. Faith formation leaders use the Sacred Heart building on the Sisters of Mercy campus nearby because they lack their own space.
The majority of this growth is from new families moving into the Belmont area. "In fact," Father Cancro notes, it is "young families. The median age of the parishioners has shifted down considerably – it's about 35, which means we have a lot of young families with a lot of young kids." So the building of a new church would pay special attention to the needs of these young families, particularly regarding faith formation.
And, of course, "practically speaking, we need more bathrooms and we need more parking," he adds. The parish also hopes, among other things, for a church library, more storage, and better ways to get on and off the property.
The Belmont Abbey basilica was the only active church for Catholics in and around Belmont until 1965, when Queen of the Apostles began providing a spiritual home for Catholics in Gaston County. With continued population growth in the area, the parish is expecting a steady rise in its numbers. Besides offering multiple Masses during the Christmas and Easter seasons, Father Cancro says, "we have to use TV screens in the hall for overflow." And they may have to start using TV screens every weekend, he suspects. "We're at the point where we're going to have overflow at two of the Masses every weekend. That's just not a good way to be church."
— Christopher Lux, correspondent
So just what does it take to get a new church built? Click here to learn more.
Patron saints of familiesThere's a saint for everyone, and families are no different. Here are a few noteworthy examples for your family to learn more about. There is the familiar and beloved St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, and St. Francis of Assisi, who's on everyone's...
Reflections on St. PeterPeter the fishermanAfter Jesus, Peter is the figure best known and most frequently cited in the New Testament writings: he is mentioned 154 times with the nickname of Pétros, "rock," the Greek translation of the Aramaic name Jesus gave him directly;...
Pope Francis on the Year of FaithPope Francis spoke about the Year of Faith in his audience with representatives of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities, and other religions March 20: "I begin my apostolic ministry in this year that my venerated predecessor, Pope Benedict...
As pope, Benedict worked to promote understanding of Vatican IIVATICAN CITY — On Feb. 14, in one of the last public appearances of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to the clergy of Rome about his experiences at the Second Vatican Council, which he had attended as an expert consultant half a century...
People around world pledge to say rosary daily during Year of FaithEASTON, Mass. — The Family Rosary division of Holy Cross Family Ministries in Easton has gathered more than 80,000 pledges from people around the globe who said they would pray the rosary daily during the 2012-13 Year of Faith. The pledges,...
A culture of lifeIn 2013 our country observes a shameful anniversary: marking 40 years of a "culture of death" that began when the U.S. Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, struck down all state laws restricting abortion. Since the advent of "legalized" abortion,...
The Fathers of the Church
Lives of the Saints
St. Mark the Evangelist's feast day celebrated on April 25St. Mark is the patron of St. Mark Church in Huntersville, which was dedicated in 2009. (File, Catholic News Herald)St. Mark, the Evangelist, is the author of the second Gospel and the patron saint of notaries. He wrote the Gospel in Greek for the Gentile...
St. Damien of Molokai's life of sacrifice remembered May 10The Church will remember St. Damien of Molokai May 10. The Belgian priest sacrificed his life and health to become a spiritual father to the victims of leprosy quarantined on a Hawaiian island. Joseph de Veuser, who later took the name Damien in religious...
'Oracle of Palestine' St. Epiphanius of Salamis celebrated May 12On May 12 the Church honors St. Epiphanius of Salamis, an early monk, bishop and Church Father known for his extensive learning and defense of Catholic teachings in the fourth century. During a 2007 visit with the Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus, Pope...
St. Katharine Drexel has local connectionOn March 3, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Katharine Drexel, a Philadelphia heiress who abandoned her family's fortune to found an order of sisters dedicated to serving the impoverished African American and Native American populations...
St. Bede known for scholarship and holiness, honored May 25The Church will celebrate the feast of St. Bede May 25. The English priest, monk and scholar is sometimes known as "the Venerable Bede" for his combination of personal holiness and intellectual brilliance. Bede was born during 673 near the...
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy