Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares blesses the construction site at Holy Cross Cemetery in Avondale Aug. 1. The building should be ready by next spring. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

AVONDALE — Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares blessed five largely undeveloped acres Aug. 1 at Holy Cross Cemetery, 10045 W. Thomas Road. Plans are underway to make the site a final resting place for Catholics and other loved ones.

Gary Brown, executive director for Catholic Cemeteries and Mortuaries for the Diocese of Phoenix, said it was important to have a blessing so early on in the building phase. The land and the workers could always use God’s protection, he said.

Bishop Nevares offered a prayer for successful completion of the project. He also prayed for those who will ultimately find a final resting place at Holy Cross Cemetery.

“We ask that the work we begin today will lead us to His kingdom,” the bishop said, reading from the Book of Blessings.

A small crowd of architects, engineers and builders — some of whom built the offices at St. Francis Cemetery — sported hardhats and squeezed under a small shade structure facing the construction site at the southwest corner of 99th Avenue and Thomas Road.

Brown said the city has been key in allowing a smooth process so far. That included installing a water line.

After the formal blessing, Brown led the bishop on a walking tour of the site. The bishop blessed almost every inch of the nearly 19,000-square-foot space. The $5 million project has been under construction since May 30. Like many diocesan projects, the new building is going up with insulated concrete form.

“We tried to make this building as environmentally friendly as possible,” Brown said.

Once completed, the building will feature offices, two visitation rooms, and a family café. The main chapel will seat more than 200 people with a smaller room seating 100. The building will be twice as big as the one at Queen of Heaven in Mesa.