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Eastward Expansion

New church will serve Catholics in eastern El Paso County

03/17/2017 | Comments

FALCON. St. Benedict Parish in Falcon, which has been celebrating Sunday Mass in a nearby school gym for more than a decade, will break ground on a long-awaited church construction project March 26. Bishop Michael Sheridan will preside at the groundbreaking after the 8:30 a.m. Mass.

The parish will convert a barn located on its 35-acre property on Falcon Highway to a worship space that will seat approximately 240 people. The new church, which is expected to be completed in 4-6 months, will include several items handmade by parishioners. Art Klein Construction is the general contractor.

“We’re turning a barn into something richly ecclesial — truly church-like,” said Deacon Lynn Sherman, parish director. “It is a simple structure — the people don’t see themselves as the high and mighty — but it is focused on the altar.”

Although Deacon Sherman and a group of dedicated parishioners have been planning the project for years, it wasn’t until the end of February that they knew for sure it would come to fruition.

St. Benedict had been conducting a capital campaign for the $890,000 project since November 2014, but two years later the amount raised fell short of the 50 percent of construction costs needed to break ground. The parish had applied to Catholic Extension for a $75,000 matching grant to cover the shortfall, but around Thanksgiving of 2016, Deacon Sherman received the disappointing news that Catholic Extension wouldn’t have any funds available for some time.

So, in early December, he gave his small but loyal group of parishioners a choice: to continue the capital campaign for an indefinite period or to raise the $75,000 themselves so that construction could start in Spring 2017 as planned. Parishioners overwhelmingly chose the second option. 

“Six weeks later, we had $105,000 and now we’re up to $119,000,” Deacon Sherman said. “It’s still coming in.”

Among the donations were sizable gifts from other parishes in the diocese, including St. Patrick, Holy Trinity, St. Peter in Monument and Our Lady of the Pines, he said.

“This is an example of what Bishop Sheridan has been fostering — parishes working together, joining programs and supporting each other,” Deacon Sherman said. “Our vision is that we want to be able to do the same thing for some other new parish in the future. It tells people that we are part of something bigger than ourselves,” he said.

Across from the barn, in the house that will eventually become the St. Benedict Parish rectory, sits an altar and ambo made by out of cherrywood by parishioner Gary Biavaschi.

“It is simple, straightforward but dignified,” Deacon Sherman said of the furniture.

Deacon Sherman has been carefully shopping for a few other decorations that are in keeping with the building’s history and surroundings. He’s also looking for used pews from churches that are being remodeled or closed.

St. Benedict parishioner Kevin Klein of Art Klein construction will oversee the building project.

“I have a very personal connection to this project because my family and I are charter members of this parish,” Klein said. “Over the years, we have seen many people contribute to help make this parish what it is today. My wife, Dee, has worked really hard to help this project come to fruition by starting a Scrip program, which has been able to raise quite a bit of money, and all proceeds have gone to this project. All of the people of this parish are very warm, genuine people and are considered family to us, and to know that our family business is fortunate enough to be able to construct this project for them is truly a humbling experience.”

“The parishioners of St. Benedict have worked and prayed for years for the day when they might worship in their own church,” said Bishop Sheridan.  “I prayed with them. That day is near, and the new church is much needed as the population of the Falcon area grows.”

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