By Jeff Gallatin
A wide range of parishioners, officials and guests were present June 8 for the groundbreaking for construction of a new church and worship center for St. Raphael parish.
“What a truly amazing and exciting time for our parish and our history. We move forward in hope, enthusiasm and humility in what God can accomplish through us,” the Rev. Timothy Gareau said prior to the event.
Construction of the church is phase two of the parish’s master plan. Beginning this week, pews and fixtures will begin to be removed in preparation for the demolition of the existing church building. The new church will be fan-shaped, with a capacity of 1,100, and will front on Dover Center Road. The ceremonial entrance will be along the north side of the building. Stained glass windows from the existing church will be refurbished and installed in the new church. These windows, from the former St. Joseph Franciscan Church (located at East 23rd and Woodland in Cleveland), were originally dedicated in 1873. Crafted in Munich, Germany, and installed in 1902, the stained glass windows were removed by the diocese when St. Joseph was closed in the late 1980s, and they were restored and installed at St. Raphael Church in the early 1990s. The crucifix, tabernacle and all of the existing marble will be incorporated into the new church. Along with the new church, a chapel and a community room that will be able to accommodate functions for up to 200 people will be built.
The architectural firm is Zarzycki-Malik. Zarzycki-Malik was instrumental in helping St. Raphael parish develop its master plan and also designed phase one. The first phase, completed in 2008, included construction of the Parish Activity Center, referred to as the PAC, connecting corridors to the school, an expanded parking lot, a new rectory and purchase of the building adjacent to the parish property for the parish office.
The general contractor is John G. Johnson Construction Co. JGJ has been a family-owned and -operated business since 1943. Throughout the years JGJ has completed several church projects, including St. John Vianney in Mentor and Holy Angels in Chagrin Falls. Most recently JGJ was the general contractor for the Apartments at St. Richard in North Olmsted. JGJ and Zarzycki-Malik have worked together on numerous projects for the Diocese of Cleveland over the years.
Officials noted St. Raphael Church has grown to over 3,500 families. Over 80 ministries are available to meet the needs of the parish community and those in need. The school is a Blue Ribbon School with an enrollment of 780 students. Another 650 students participate in the parish school of religion.
“We will be more effective and efficient meeting the needs of our parish community,” Gareau said.
Construction is expected to take 12 to 14 months. During this time, Masses will be held in the PAC. The dedication of the new church is scheduled to be held Aug. 22, 2015, with the Most Rev. Richard G. Lennon, bBishop of the Diocese of Cleveland, scheduled to consecrate the church.