DEFIANCE—Students at Defiance Holy Cross Catholic School attended their first Mass of this year in the school gym, but it won’t be long before they are celebrating liturgies in their own chapel on campus.
Father Randy Giesige, pastor of Defiance St. Mary, and Father Todd Dominique, pastor of Defiance St. John, presided at a blessing and symbolic groundbreaking for the new chapel of Defiance Holy Cross Catholic School. (Chronicle photo by Laurie Stevens Bertke)
Construction on the 250-seat chapel is expected to be complete before the end of the school year. (Rendering courtesy of Beilharz Architects Inc. of Defiance)
Students, teachers and school supporters packed the gym Aug. 31 for a Mass followed by a blessing and symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for the 250-seat chapel, which is expected to be dedicated before the end of the school year.
Defiance Mayor Bob Armstrong, a member of St. Mary who has grandchildren enrolled at Holy Cross and attended the ceremony, said building the chapel sets the groundwork for many years of quality religious education.
“From the mayor’s side of this, we’re going to have a great new landmark here on the south end of town that’s going to be visible by all,” said Mayor Armstrong. “But from the Catholic side, we’re going to have our future. We have planned; we have set the stones in place for us to be able to have years and years to come of successful Catholic education.”
Holy Cross students moved into the former Anthony Wayne Elementary School in the fall of 2009, four years after the parish schools at Defiance St. Mary and Defiance St. John first consolidated. Since then, weekly school Masses have been celebrated in the gym or occasionally at the two parish churches in Defiance.
Before Holy Cross moved to its new campus, students attended classes at the former St. John and St. Mary schools. The move to a single campus and decision to rename it Holy Cross brought both parishes together, according to Notre Dame Sister Lynda Snyder, principal. “And then we’re really looking at the chapel as the crown jewel of the whole project, because it brings Jesus on the property,” she added.
Holy Cross has 137 students in pre-kindergarten through grade six this year.
Deacon Nick Varano, project manager, said the chapel construction is being financed as part of an ongoing $1.2 million capital campaign that began in 2009 and also included the purchase of the school, renovations and the expansion of the parking lot.
In addition to hosting services for the students, Deacon Varano said the chapel may be used in Generations of Faith programming for the Defiance Catholic community.