Archive for the ‘Building Progress’ Category

Some Personal Reflections on 2007’s Triumph of the Cross Developments

As summer moved into fall, the Building Committee’s work for a time shifted primarily to the people responsible for sending the bidding documents and details to prospective contractors and then evaluating the bids that were received. These included the architects, construction manager and diocesan facilities director. Other members of the committee expected to continue working on incorporating special elements from the closing churches into Triumph of the Cross church and cathedral. But as reported in our diocesan newspaper, The Steubenville Register, and other local media outlets, after reviewing the results of the fundraising campaign for construction of the new cathedral, the diocesan Finance Council did not give the required approval to proceed with construction. It was determined that because the capital campaign had not raised what had been anticipated, the parish and the diocese would have to borrow too much money for this project. Following the November 16, 2007 announcement, Bishop Conlon formed and is meeting with a consultation committee of some 35 members from the area parishes, pastors and diocese to consider an alternate plan regarding Triumph of the Cross Church and Cathedral. We don’t know what will happen, but the Bishop has said he would like to make his decision relatively soon.

On a personal note, I’d like to share that the past year brought some great high points as well as disapointments as we continued our work on the Building Committee. The committee includes members from all the parishes coming together to form Triumph of the Cross Parish. Throughout our 2+ years of meeting, we acknowledged the sadness and sometimes pain we felt about our parishes closing, but we’ve really been blessed to get to know one another and work together on planning and designing a new church that would truly reflect the faith and community of Catholics in each parish.

We looked forward and had hope for the future. I recall one Sunday several months ago sitting in the front pew during Sunday Mass at Holy Name Cathedral, preparing to show the “Lift High the Cross” video during the capital campaign. The choir sounded magnificant during Mass, and I closed my eyes and visualized this glorious music being sung in the new cathedral, a building whose plans had become more and more detailed. (It was still a couple of months before we’d see the first computer renderings from the architects, but we knew well sketches, drawings and floor plans.) I wish everyone could have had that kind of envisioning the celebration of Mass as I did that Morning.

Even as we were continuing to develop the designs and plans for the new church and cathedral, we could see that financial support of the capital campaign was weak in most of the Steubenville parishes. I think that by not financially supporting this project, many people were expressing their sadness and pain about their parishes being closed. But it was most difficult for me to see and hear the anger being expressed in public. Through frequent letters to the editor in the local newspaper, a number of accusations and allegations were made that were more destructive than constructive. At times language and content of public conversations were extremely negative and inappropriate. Too often words and actions expressed anger and bitterness – and I think were actually often reflecting pain. 

For the Catholic Church in Steubenville, 2007 ended much differently than it started. Divisions are deeper, the future of a church for a new parish is unknown – and our area needs hope and peace more than ever. My prayer as we approach the start of Lent, anticipating Holy Week and Easter, is that each of us – myself certainly included – will turn to God and experience the hope and peace He has for each of us in new and tangible ways. And through that, worship Him in heartfelt unity.

Jim Coyle 


Prayers, Music and Blessing of the Cornerstone

Thursday and Friday, September 13 and 14, 2007, brought special times of prayer and celebration as we move forward toward the building and dedication of Triumph of the Cross Church and Cathedral in Steubenville.

“Triumph of the Cross: A Prayerful Concert Celebration” was held Thursday evening at Holy Name Cathedral. Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, Fr. Tim McGuire, pastor of Triumph of the Cross parish, and Dick Adams, head of the Steubenville Task Force Implementation Team, opened the evening with prayer and Scripture readings.

Dana - September 13, 2007

Music celebrating the sanctity of life, joy and our life together as members of the Church was performed and led first by Irish Catholic recording artist Dana and then Steubenville’s Unity award-winning David Vogel Band.

David Vogel - September 13, 2007

We enjoyed the evening’s heart-felt music and stories about many of the songs.

Triumph of the Cross Cornerstone

September 14, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, is the feast day of Triumph of the Cross parish and cathedral. At 4:00 pm that day, Cardinal Francis Arinze presided at the Blessing of the Cathedral Foundation Stone – the cornerstone – at the site of the new cathedral. His Eminence, a member of the Roman Catholic Curia at the Vatican, is the Prefect of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Our Bishop, R. Daniel Conlon, three other bishops and several hundred people gathered from Steubenville and other parts of the Diocese of Steubenville, including people who travelled by bus from Marietta, Ohio. The Scripture readings were about building and the significance of the Cornerstone.

Cardinal Francis Arinze

In his homily, Cardinal Arinze’s spoke about the importance of a church, and especially the cathedral, in the life of Catholics, saying that “the church building is for the gathering of the people of God.”

“There is particular significance of the cathedral of the diocese of the church. The cathedral church of the diocese is the mother of all other churches in a diocese.”  – Cardinal Arinze

He concluded by saying, “A cathedral is not built in a day. But we pray it won’t be too many days before another gathering when we celebrate the dedication of the new church.”

Bishop Conlon Blessing Cornerstone

Bishop Conlon then blessed the Foundation Stone, after which members of parishes that are coming together to form Triumph of the Cross Parish led the people in prayers of Intercession. The service concluded with a blessing by Cardinal Arinze.

Music was provided by the Steubenville Catholic Central High School and the St. John Central High School Marching Bands, the Schola Contorum Franciscana of Franciscan University of Steubenville and Choral Members representing the parishes comprising Triumph of the Cross Parish.

Marking Cathedral Outline and Altar Location

At the site, the outline of the cathedral was marked by stakes and colored tape, with a Cross standing where the main altar will be located.

Architects’ Initial Computer Renderings and More in New Gallery on Website

First Computer Rendering from Architects

We’ve been making steady progress on the design specifications for Triumph of the Cross cathedral, even though there hasn’t been much to share here on the blog. And on June 16, 2007, the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Bishop R. Daniel Conlon was the main celebrant at a special Feast Day Mass at Holy Rosary church, followed by a procession to the nearby site where the cathedral will be built. With several hundred people joining in prayer, Bishop Conlon blessed the site.

As soon as you’ve read this, take a look at our new Online Gallery at the Triumph of the Cross website. You’ll find photos of the site blessing, several new sketches and floor plans, and the first computer renderings from the architects. They look wonderful! The buidling committee will be using computer renderings to help select exterior brick colors and treatment for the cathedral.

Thanks for stopping by here, and check out the Online Gallery and Cathedral Parish Website.

75 Building Committee Meetings

At our last Building Committee meeting, March 26, we estimated that we’ve had 75 meetings since we began in October, 2005. The committee includes priests and parishoners from all six parishes that will form Triumph of the Cross Parish, and we’re dedicated to helping design and build a truly prayerful new church for our parish community, a church that will also serve the diocese of Steubenville as its new cathedral.

Together we’ve studied, talked and prayed together that the Holy Spirit will guide us in serving the Church in Steubenville through our work. While each of us feels loss that our present parishes will be closing, we also look ahead and see such potential for building a new Catholic community and a new “home” for worship. For me, being part of this committee has been a true blessing as I’ve gotten to know people from different parishes and shared their experiences.

As I’m written before, we’ve been meeting regularly – almost weekly – to review and discuss the architects’ plans, take a hard look at projected costs, and “value engineer” virtually every aspect of the project to enable us to cost-effectively build a church that will truly enhance our worship as parishoners of Triumph of the Cross parish and invite all visitors to prayer.

Having spent recent months working on details of the overall design of the church and the site, we’re now starting to discuss interior design details, including more details about incorporating elements from the churches that will be closing. Up to this point, Fr. McGuire, pastor of Triumph of the Cross Parish and head of the Building Committee, has filled two large binders with notes from our meetings and many documents and plans we’ve discussed, and is ready to move on to Binder #3. And he’s got larger plans and drawings in his office.

Fr. McGuire’s Building Committee Notes
Our next meeting is April 9 as we keep working and praying with anticipation that we will have a worship-filled church through which we’ll build a new community of Catholics in Steubenville.

Have a very Blessed Easter!

Jim Coyle


Sound and Worship

One of the articles in the January 26, 2007, issue of The Steubenville Register, our diocesan newspaper, reports on a recent national survey about music and worship. The survey addressed singing by members of the congregation, and included more than a dozen elements related to our singing at Mass and other worshp celebrations.

Along with the many aspects of design, Fr. McGuire and two of us on the Triumph of the Cross Building Committee are working with our architects and an acoustical consulting firm to be sure the acoustics in our new cathedral support and enhance our prayer and worship. As people from the parishes we visited told us, having good sound and a clear sound system is a critical issue.

In the article about the survey, J. Michael McMahon, president of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (the group conducting the survey), when addressing one of the elements affecting congregational singing –  a “church building that makes singing a pleasure” – said:

“These are long range kinds of things, but when you’re building a church one would hope that acoustics would be a major consideration. Sad to say, that’s not taken into account by a lot of people when it comes to building a church.”

For us, the acoustics are a major consideration for Triumph of the Cross and we’re actively including sound in our design plans.

Hear here!

Building Committee Update from Fr. McGuire

The Building Committee has been hard at work continuing its planning for the building of our new parish church and cathedral.

You’re aware that the City Council rejected our request to reroute Garfield Avenue. Since that time, we have devised a new site plan with which we are very happy. It involves facing the front door of the church on Garfield and flipping the floor plan right to left. In other words, the bell tower and portico will be on the left as you face the church. Some of the advantages of this plan are that we will be able to place the building four feet higher on the hill and place the entrances even closer to the parking lots. The City Council may actually have helped us find an even better plan.

In the next eight to ten weeks we hope to finish our work on the design and engineering phase and put the project out for bid in early spring. Our hope is to be able to break ground around Pentecost. Construction would then continue through the summer of 2008.

Why is it taking so long? There have been elements of the process that have slowed us down. However, we are confident we will have a better building in the long run.

Fr. Tim McGuire, Pastor

Christmas Eve Update

I know it’s been a while since our last update here. Developing the detailed designs for Triumph of the Cross cathedral has been the primary focus of the architects and the parish Building Committee, and we look forward to sharing the results as we reach different milestones. As the process continues, it’s great to see the members of the committee work together, using their talents and experience in this special project. There are members with architecture, building project planning and construction experience working with the architects at very practical levels and planning what we hope are the best ways to involve local firms and workers in building the cathedral. Some of us with audio and video experience interacting with the acoustical consultants for the project to help design the sound and sound system so you and I will clearly hear and experience high-quality sound in our worship; and the artistic strengths of several committee members have been essential factors every step of the way.

All of us are concerned with the costs of building the cathedral and are making suggestions and decisions to keep costs under control while still building a beautiful, worship-full church and cathedral for Triumph of the Cross parish and the Diocese of Steubenville. Since our beginning in the Fall of 2005, the parish Finance Council and the Building Committee have been the groups working jointly on the design and development of Triumph of the Cross.

The men and women of these committees come from all of the existing parishes forming Triumph of the Cross. We’re committed to this project, knowing it’s a rare opportunity to plan and build a church and cathedral for our parish and for the diocese – for people, not institutions – where we’ll come together as a community to worship God and build new relationships with one another. What we’re doing now is not only for our families and friends, but for generations of Catholics to come.

We were disappointed that Steubenville’s City Council’s buildings and grounds committee didn’t grant our request to vacate Garfield Road and build a replacement on another part of the site, allowing us to build the cathedral closer to Holy Rosary school so students and parishioners wouldn’t have to cross an active street to reach the cathedral, but we’re designing a plan that moves the cathedral to a different part of the site.

For all of us, the closing of our present parishes is painful, but looking and the shortage of priests and other facts presented by the diocesan task force, which have been shared again in earlier posts to this weblog, we realize that the change is necessary for the Catholic church in Steubenville. We’re grateful for the positive response by many people, even though they haven’t been as vocal as others, and pray for unity in our Church and in the community as we continue to seek the Lord and do His will.

In early January we’ll be meeting with potential contractors for the project as we move closer to the construction phase of Triumph of the Cross. The design process has been filled with discussions and decisions, and we’re all looking forward to starting construction.

I wish you and your loved ones a most Blessed Christmas season, and look forward to sharing the building of Triumph of the Cross with you during the new year.

Jim Coyle

Building Committee Update from Fr. McGuire

I thought this might be a good time to give you an update regarding the work of the Building Committee. We met last week and will meet again next week. In the meantime, Meacham and Apel, our architects are working hard.

During the past two weeks, one of our architects has met with the City of Steubenville about code requirements and engineering. There are many code requirements that the City of Steubenville must be assured will be met (and they will all be met) before they will grant a permit to begin construction. There are codes involving almost every aspect of the building from what is under the ground to the top of the steeple.

Fr. Cross and I spent much of the first week of October inventorying all our churches. We took pictures of and cataloged every object in the churches (measurements, condition, colors, styles). This inventory will be used by the architects and the Building Committee to determine what can be moved to the new church and where it might be placed. The catalog contains around 500 pictures and descriptions.

Up to this point the architects have finished schematic drawings of the exterior, drawn the steel framing of the shell of the building, completed two possible site plans (depending on the City of Steubenville), rough window design, and completed a floor plan for both floors.

In the few weeks to come the Building Committee and the architects must make some very important decisions such as the brick and stone that will used in construction, the design and materials for pews, altar, baptismal font & ambo. In short, what we are working on now are some of the most important decisions yet. They are important because they involve what people will see. Many important decisions have already been made, but these have been in regard to things that people will never see such as excavation and supports.

Some members of the Building Committee have also been involved in receptions for the capital campaign. Many of the parishes around us began the campaign a few weeks ago. Our six parishes are beginning the campaign effort now.

This update will also appear in the October 22 Triumph of the Cross Parish Bulletin.

Preliminary Drawing of the New Cathedral in Today’s “Steubenville Register”

On the front page of today’s edition of The Steubenville Register is a preliminary conceptual drawing of the front of Triumph of the Cross Church, along with a series of Questions and Answers from Bishop Conlon about the new Cathedral.

Added August 20: We’ve also posted a couple of the architects’ conceptual drawings on our Parish Website.

As one of the members of the Building Committee, I can tell you that we’ve been very pleased with the work being done by Meacham & Apel Architects. They’re as enthusiastic about our new church and cathedral as we are! This is truly a group effort – pastors and laity coming from different parishes bringing different gifts and perspectives, and architects who truly listen to the ideas and concerns of parishoners and priests – peacefully guided by the Holy Spirit.

When I began writing this, I hadn’t intended to “wave the flag” about our architects or the building committee, but as I reflected on our many meetings and discussions since we began our work last Fall, I realized how blessed I am to be part of this process on behalf of my parish community and the diocese. We have a long way to go and many tasks to accomplish before Triumph of the Cross is dedicated and we worship there together, but I have no doubt that God will continue guiding us each step of the way as He has so far.

Jim Coyle

What’s taking so long?

I have been asked that question on more than one occasion in the past few weeks. To those who asked it I gave assurances that the Building Committee has been meeting every week for eight months for a two or three hour meeting each week. Our architects have been with us for all but two of those meetings since January. A process like this takes time. There are lots of questions that have to be answered by the architects before we can move to the next step. The kinds of questions that take that sort of time have been questions like, “How much will it cost if we do this?” “Is there another way to do the same thing?” “Is it possible to include this or that without changing the basic structure of the church?” “How can we incorporate this or that item from a closing church?” But, I am happy to say that we are near the end of such questions and should soon be able to share our plans with our parishioners soon.

– Fr. McGuire