Friday, January 22, 2010

Catholic Church Moving from New York To Georgia

It is an amazing thing to behold - but something necessary to preserve the beauty of this remarkable building.

About St. Gerard’s Church

St. Gerard’s Church (completed 1911) is a Gilded Age approximation (at one-third scale) of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, one of the four major basilicas of Rome. Its exterior is of Indiana limestone. The interior is travertine marble and beautifully done plaster. Its atmosphere is a mix of neoclassical and baroque, with hints of art moderne. Twelve solid granite columns line the nave. Along the interior are ornamental coffered ceilings and a dome in the apse with a triumphant painting of the Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven.

When a dwindling parish membership forced the Diocese of Buffalo to close the church in January 2008, St. Gerard’s was left to fend for itself near the shore of Lake Erie. With each freeze / thaw cycle, the window of time for preservation shrinks. The splendidly executed structure already needs a new boiler, plaster and roof repairs and new leading for its luminous stained glass. Disassembling, moving and reassembling the church will ensure its life continues as originally intended by the stream of immigrants who created this monument and maintained it for nearly a century as the House of God and the Gate of Heaven.

About Mary Our Queen Church

Opened as a mission of All Saints Catholic Church in Dunwoody, Georgia, in November 1994, the parish of Mary Our Queen started life humbly in an office building on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in nearby Norcross.

Initially, there were 70 registered families. Mass was celebrated on Saturdays at 5:00 p.m. and at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays. Within a few years, the parish added another Mass on Sunday at 11:00 a.m, developed an adult choir, contemporary choir and children’s choir supported by lectors, altar servers, Eucharistic ministers, ushers and a nursery.

Today, a 15,000-square-foot temporary church and a 6,000-square-foot educational facility (named the Trinity Building) sit on a 15-acre site at the intersection of The Corners Parkway and Crooked Creek Road in the Peachtree Corners area of Norcross. The sanctuary seats 600, while the Trinity Building houses the church’s school of religion program.

To replace the temporary structure and accommodate a growing church membership, Mary Our Queen launched a capital campaign to raise money for the construction of a new church. The parish enlisted the help of Bill Harrison of Harrison Design Associates, an internationally prominent architectural and design firm, to develop plans for the new church. During this same time, Father David M. Dye came forward with an idea: buy and move a more significant classic church than the parish could ever build.

Visiting around in the Northeast, the pastor and the architect, a Southern Baptist, came upon St. Gerard’s. To their astonishment, Bill discovered that the floor plan and overall style of the magnificent church was within five percent of his own plans for a new church in Norcross. The major difference was the vastly superior quality of the materials used in the construction of the 98-year-old church.

To begin the pilgrimage of St. Gerard’s to Atlanta, the parish, which had already raised $3 million for the construction of a new church, committed those funds to the relocation.

To complete the pilgrimage, the parish and a broad-based board from a variety of backgrounds requests your help. Will you please help bring one of America’s threatened treasures 900 miles into the future?

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