COLORADO SPRINGS. For a little over 10 years, the youngest parish in the Diocese of Colorado Springs — St. Benedict in Falcon — has been celebrating Mass in the gymnasium of the Falcon School District 49’s Patriot High School. The dream of the parishioners, from the very beginning, was to have their own church on their own property. In November, 2014 they started a capital campaign to raise $890,000 to renovate a one-story barn on their property into a place of worship.
Serving over 190 square miles of territory in eastern El Paso County, with only 145 households, St. Benedict parishioners have already donated $360,000. The parish has consistently set aside money that would go towards this goal. Several significant fundraisers over the years have added to this number. (This past September, the parish yearly Barn Dance generated $4,000 so this dream could become a reality.)
Recognizing that this still leaves another $150,000 to be raised before they can break ground on the project, other options were researched. Members of the finance and pastoral councils, along with the Development Steering Committee, drafted a matching money grant proposal to the Catholic Extension Society, in Chicago. The request was for $75,000. While this grant proposal was received with positive encouragement, it was recently denied. Without this matching grant, the parish will have to find another way to raise this $75,000.
Falcon is in a partially suburban, mostly rural area 15 miles east of downtown Colorado Springs. Back in 2004, a few local Catholic families started talking about the need for a parish and a Catholic elementary school in Falcon. The members of the North Metro Deanery brought this idea to the attention of Bishop Michael Sheridan, who was well aware of the population projections for the area. A community meeting was scheduled with diocesan officials for January 19, 2005 in the gymnasium of Falcon Middle School. Most thought that about 20-25 people might come. That meeting was attended by 120 very interested Catholics with a dream. On Ash Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2005, a special Mass was celebrated in the gym for 200 of the faithful.
On May 22, 2005, the Catholic Community of Falcon started having Mass every Sunday in the gymnasium of a local school with priests provided by Father Paul Wicker, then pastor of Holy Apostles Church in Colorado Springs.
It was on July 11, 2005 — the Feast of St. Benedict — that Bishop Sheridan designated the Falcon faith community as a quasi-parish, naming it after that most venerable saint and in honor of then-newly-elected Pope Benedict XVI. In December 2006, the bishop assigned Deacon Lynn Sherman as director for St. Benedict Parish due to the limited number of priests available to serve there full-time.
In 2012, the parish purchased a 35-acre ranch near the school where Mass was being celebrated. This property included a two-story residence which is being used for office space, rooms for meeting and religious education, and a small chapel where the Holy Eucharist is kept in repose; a single story residence that will be renovated for use as a rectory; and a 44-foot by 100-foot workshop/barn for use as a parish hall.
“We have often said that, if our Lord would allow himself to be humbled by being born in a barn, why should we not turn our barn into a place where we can worship him?” Deacon Sherman said. The plans for this almost poetic goal have been approved by Bishop Sheridan. All that remains for construction to begin is for St. Benedict Parish to raise 50 percent of the overall construction cost for the church, and be able to finance the remaining balance according to diocesan regulations.
Father Jim Baron, pastor of Holy Apostles Parish and canonical pastor for St. Benedict Parish, said that he is encouraged by the sense of ownership that the parishioners of St. Benedict have for their project. Upon recent visits to the gymnasium for Mass, he remarked how this process should have every hope of succeeding as long as the spirit of perseverance and sacrifice continue. In addition to this dedicated spirit is a sense of urgency, because every year construction expenses increase.
Six other parishes have donated $37,000 towards their building project. And, while they would greatly appreciate any level of financial assistance possible from all the other parishes, they would now like to invite all the faithful across the Diocese of Colorado Springs to personally consider helping St. Benedict to fulfill its dream — to turn a barn into a Church — to build up the Kingdom of God, and serve all in the Falcon area.
For more information on St. Benedict Parish and their building project, visit www.stbenedictfalcon.org, call their parish house, 719-495-1426, or contact Deacon Sherman directly at 719-237-6677.