Immaculate Heart of Mary breaks ground on parish hall and school
HIGH POINT — Hundreds of parishioners gathered for the blessing and groundbreaking for a new Parish Life and Education Center at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in High Point Jan. 15 – the culmination of a $6.3 million capital campaign that garnered financial support from more than 750 families.
The groundbreaking ceremony began with the church choir singing "We are Marching in the Light of God" as a procession including the parish staff, High Point Mayor Becky Smothers and parishioners walked through a double line formed by the Knights of Columbus and made their way to the groundbreaking area.
Oblates of St. Francis de Sales Father Joseph C. Zuschmidt, parochial vicar, gave the opening prayer. Senior parish priest, Oblates of St. Francis de Sales Father James P. Byrne, translated the opening remarks in Spanish and read from 1 Peter 2:3-7, 9. The chorus then sang "The Lord is My Light" by Lillian Bouknight.
Pictured: Rev. Monsignor Mauricio W. West, vicar general and chancellor of the Diocese of Charlotte, blesses the ground during a groundbreaking ceremony Jan. 15 for Immaculate Heart of Mary Church’s future Parish Life and Education Center. Construction on the 77,000-square-foot, LEED-certified parish hall and school is expected to take about one year. (Kathy Roach | Catholic News Herald)
Oblates of St. Francis de Sales Father Vincent. E. Smith, pastor, spoke of the history of the High Point parish and what the new center will mean for future generations. Intercessions were then read by Deacon Walter J. Haarsgaard.
Rev. Monsignor Mauricio W. West, vicar general and chancellor of the Diocese of Charlotte, blessed the site for the Parish Life and Education Center. Then students from Immaculate Heart of Mary School passed out shovels to the pastoral staff and other dignitaries for the ceremonial groundbreaking.
The event ended with the chorus singing "This Little Light of Mine" as everyone walked back to the gathering space of the church for a reception.
Construction of the 77,000-square-foot, two-story building by Edifice of Charlotte will take about one year to complete. The structure was designed by architectural firm Wasmer Keeling of Charlotte. Architect Pete Wasmer is a graduate of IHM School.
Father Smith noted during his remarks, "This is not just another job. The architects are really taking this to heart."
Upon completion, the building will be eligible for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. According to Father Smith, "It will be the first LEED-certified school in the City of High Point." LEED was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to promote green building design, construction and operation.
The center will be divided into four main wings – education, administration, fellowship hall and activities – and it will include a gymnasium and media center. The project will cost $10.5 million. Besides the $6.3 million campaign, the project will be funded by the sale of the current school property, cash on hand before the campaign, and a 10-year loan.
The current school building on Montlieu Avenue accommodates 230 students in pre-kindergarten to eighth grades, but the new education center will allow for twice as many students and will have room to expand on the second floor as the student population increases.
The fellowship hall will be able to host banquets for up to 500 people or can be partitioned into three smaller rooms. It will be used for parish events, but it can also be used by church members for wedding or anniversary celebrations.
The outside of the building will complement the existing church architecture. The interior colors for walls and flooring are based upon the colors found in the stained-glass window that can be seen at the church's entrance.
Elements from the old church on Montlieu Avenue, including the crucifix from the chapel, will be incorporated into the new building. The steeple will become a focal point in the new plaza between the church and the center. A stained-glass window of the Holy Family, taken from the original church, will be installed in the transom over the entrance to the new media center.
Parish capital campaign cabinet member Matt Thiel noted that the $6.3 million fundraising drive "was the second largest parish capital campaign in the history of the Charlotte diocese." The more than 750 families who made pledges, he said, was "a record in the parish and community."
The capital campaign will continue to raise funds for updating the media center and for future projects, such as athletic fields.
Father Smith credited "a very active, healthy parish with strong leadership" for making the building campaign so successful.
"Even in this economic downturn, people rallied," he said. He also pointed out that parish volunteers, using their expertise in areas such as finance and construction, made the center a reality.
— Kathy Roach, correspondent
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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