SCOTTSDALE —St. Bernadette parishioners have waited 20 years for the day they would break ground on a church.
On Dec. 7, the wait was over.
Inside the parish hall where Masses have been celebrated for the last 16 years, a countdown graced the wall next to the altar — a wheelbarrow and construction tools beneath it. The parish’s first permanent worship space will begin taking shape around the time the community celebrates its 20th anniversary Jan. 1.
Hundreds of parishioners processed out of Mass Dec. 7 singing and bearing a rosary. Their pastor, Fr. Pete Rossa, encouraged them to regularly pray for the success of the project.
By the time the faithful reached the parking lot and gathered around the site of the future cruciform worship space, they had donned mock construction hats with writing that memorialized the occasion.
“What we wish to do is give great glory and honor to God,” Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted said during his homily that touched on the idea of building a firm foundation, one with roots of peace and security in Christ. The bishop recognized the discussion and consensus building carried out over the years regarding the three-phase master plan. Construction of the church marks the midway point.
16245 N. 60th Street, Scottsdale
“Today is a day many of us have dreamed of and too many of us have awaited,” Don Tellis, parish council president, told the crowd during the groundbreaking ceremony. He offered a communal “thank you” for the role each person played.
Zabinia Arvizu, a parishioner and seventh-grader at St. John XXIII School on the same grounds, spoke on behalf of the youth who invested time, energy and prayers. She said she looked forward to coming to the church to lay an array of emotions at the altar.
The 900-seat church will have a classic French design honoring the birthplace of its patron saint. It will also feature a choir loft, stained glass windows and a communion rail. More importantly, it will look like a Catholic church from the exterior and interior, Fr. Rossa said, “communicating the imminent and transcendent image of God.”
He told The Catholic Sun that a church building should express the universality of faith of the Church and that it should be beautiful and dignified.
Longtime parishioners recalled the early years of the parish.
“The hall has many memories, but we truly believe the time is now to build a sacred place of permanent worship,” said John Smith, one of St. Bernadette’s original parishioners.
Smith’s family settled in a home about a block from the church when they moved from Minnesota and he remembered the first Mass in a nearby school cafeteria. They also attended the first Mass in the parish hall 16 years ago. It’s still filled with moveable chairs and dull, hardwood floors.
Parishioner Sarah Larson reflected on church life today alongside her husband Erik. Sarah reminded the parish family to be thankful for what they have now and was confident that God’s graces guaranteed that list would be long. Still, she joined the spirit of Advent that was in the air as St. Bernadette parishioners await the countdown to the church’s dedication.
“I can hardly wait for the warmth and joy that will fill our hearts on that day,” Sarah said.
Fr. Rossa expressed a sense of gratitude for watching the parish community grow in faith since becoming pastor in 2007. He is eager to embrace the parish’s future.
“This has been a pinnacle of what the Lord has charged me with over the years, but it’s not the end,” Fr. Rossa said.
The church is scheduled for completion by the end of 2015 with planning underway to welcome an influx of new and returning parishioners. Future projects call for school and parish administration expansion plus renovation of the church hall.
From our Catholic media partner
While St. Bernadette in Scottsdale looks toward growth, a parish of the same name in Indianapolis faces changes of a different sort. Merger of St. Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes parishes in Indianapolis (The Criterion)