GREENVILLE—A wooden cross on a hill marks the spot where members of Our Lady of the Rosary Church attended Mass in an old white house during the 1950s.
On July 5, hundreds of people gathered in the shadow of that cross to break ground for a new church building that represents the future of the diverse Upstate parish.
The festivities began with a standing room only 9 a.m. Mass celebrated by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone. Afterward, the crowd processed to the hill and the bishop blessed four corners of the site where the new church will stand. He and Father Dwight Longenecker, parish administrator, led the crowd in prayers for a successful building project. They both donned hard hats and took shovels in hand along with members of the building and capital campaign committees to break the ground.
The builders for the project are Cely Construction and the architects are Greene and Associates, both of Greenville.
The new church will be built in a traditional Romanesque style and the entire structure will span an estimated 15,788 square feet, with seating for about 450 people, said Paul Bricco, chairman of the building committee. The building plans include space for a shrine to the Divine Mercy and a columbarium. Construction is set to begin this month and should take about a year.
The building will combine the old and the new, with the inclusion of 42 stained glass windows from St. Mary the Morning Star Church in Pittsfield, Mass.
Bricco, a member of Our Lady of the Rosary for 46 years, said the day was the result of nine years of work and prayer.
“God has definitely been involved and had a hand in this project since the beginning,” he said. “We can see where he has steered us. Things we thought were obstacles turned out to show us the way He wanted us to go. This whole process has been amazing.”
The estimated cost of the building project is $5 million, with about $3.7 million raised so far, said John Tully, chairman of the parish capital campaign.
Two founding members of Our Lady of the Rosary attended the ceremony along with some of their children.
Josephine Howard, 94, of Greenville, said she was the 77th person to register at the parish after it was formed in 1952.
From 1952 to 1955, Mass was celebrated in the living room of the white house, which doubled as a rectory, Howard recalled.
“There would be so many people attending that unless you got there an hour early, you couldn’t see,” she said. “People would be lined up all along the hall, even out the front door.”
Her son, Murray Howard, was part of the original first-grade class when Our Lady of the Rosary School opened, and he remembered that when the current church was opened in 1955, it did double duty as classrooms for the school until all of its buildings were completed.
“It was just tremendous and gratifying to see the groundbreaking, and it brought a rush of memories,” Mr. Howard said. “We’ve been in this same building since 1955, raising money on and off all those years, and now we’re finally going to get a church that’s second to none in architecture and furnishings.”
Julie Flaspoehler, 93, was at the ceremony with two of her 14 children. She and her husband, the late Ed Flaspoehler, were founding members of the parish.
“It was so inspiring and very emotional to be able to be here today with my mom,” said her daughter, Cathy Moman, of Greenville. “My mom and dad both wanted this so much for the parish. I know my dad would have been so thrilled to see this, and it’s great that my mom is still here to witness it.”
Moman said that later in the day, when they took Mrs. Flaspoehler back to her residence, she couldn’t stop saying “Oh what a beautiful day it was!”
“We had had rain so often before the ceremony, and then the sky cleared for us,” she said. “It really made us feel like the Holy Spirit is breathing inspiration into this project for our church.”
Photos: Miscellany/Christina Lee Knauss