Chili parish community hopes new church will be ready for Christmas - Catholic Courier

Chili parish community hopes new church will be ready for Christmas

CHILI — The exterior structure of the new St. Pius Tenth Church is up, beams are set in place, and anticipation is growing as the parish community awaits its new home.

To celebrate the progress made in the project thus far, the parish held an Aug. 10 “topping out ceremony” during which Bishop Salvatore R. Matano blessed the structure. In the building industry, such a ceremony is traditionally held to mark milestones of a large project, explained Father Paul Bonacci, parochial administrator.

Holding to a long-held target date, Father Bonacci said the parish hopes to celebrate Christmas in the new church.

“We’re just going to have to wait and see how it goes,” he said of construction progress.

Parish and diocesan officials have been working since April 2015 on plans for rebuilding the church, which was destroyed in a January 2015 fire. The original church structure had to be razed due to extensive structural damage.

Bill Gustafson, chairman of the parish council, said waiting for the rebuilding of the church to commence has taken on a spiritual component.

“Like the Israelites on their journey, we have felt anticipation and longing and some frustration,” he noted. “Now, it feels like we’re moving.”

While the parish had hoped for construction to begin last fall, shovels did not break ground until this past spring to prepare the church campus for new construction, explained Brian Porter, who leads the parish’s rebuilding committee. Extra time was needed to submit technical specifications in order to obtain various approvals and permits, he said.

Workers began laying the foundation on May 2, Porter added. The work is being done by Costich Engineering, Hanlon Architects and Nichols Construction, Father Bonacci noted.

Exterior steel beams were installed in July and August, Porter said. And at the end of July, spectators watched as wooden beams for the ceiling were set in place by cranes.

“The more you see, the more excited you get,” remarked Diane Connor, who served on the interior subcommittee for the church rebuilding.

One of the 81-foot beams features hundreds of signatures from parish students, parishioners and staff, Father Bonacci noted. He said the idea came from alumni including Porter, who was a St. Pius Tenth School student when a former pastor had the children sign a beam for the prior church building.

Two statues that were singed in the fire also will hold a prominent place in the main area of the church, Porter said, noting that they tell the story of the parish’s journey.

In the coming months, as work on the new building moves from exterior to interior, Father Bonacci said he will strive to maintain open lines of communication with parishioners about the project. Information provided by Porter and Father Bonacci about the project’s various phases has helped to ease concerns among parishioners, Gustafson said.

Porter said parishioners and community members have pledged about $2.9 million to a capital campaign for the rebuilding project. The entire cost of the project is $6 million, including site work, architectural and engineering services, construction and interior finishes, he added. After depreciation and deductibles, the parish will receive about $2.8 million from insurance, Porter explained. An additional $350,000 has been raised in a separate fire-restoration fund, he said, and the parish continues to receive donations on a daily basis.

“I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the people of St. Pius ‚Ķ in their support of building the new church building,” Father Bonacci said.

Designed by Rolf Rohn of Pittsburgh’s Rohn & Associates Design Inc., the new church will follow guidelines of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ document “Built of Living Stones: Art, Architecture and Worship.” The architectural team has returned to Rochester several times to ensure that the building provides a “beautiful, holy interior,” Father Bonacci said. While Rohn already has designed the altar and ambo, other details are still being worked out, noted Bernard Grizard, director of the diocesan Department of Pastoral Services.

Bishop Matano also contributed to the design, requesting that the front of the new building be visible from Chili Avenue so that anyone driving by will recognize it as a Catholic presence where God’s people gather in worship, Porter explained.

The bishop wanted “the church to reflect our rich Catholic heritage and a sense of permanency,” he added.

Tags: Churches, Monroe County West
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