One of the most interesting Church construction stories in the last few years is taking place at Mary Our Queen in Norcross, Ga. Its been over a year now since I have been to that parish, but last time I was there, volunteering with the youth ministry dept, the parish was in desperate need of more space. Pews were packed to the brim, the 600 seat church could hardly contain the now 700 families attending.Classrooms were overflowing, and hard decisions on what programs could be run had to be made, not on budgetary or man power constraints, but with space as the major consideration.
While I am often critical of needless building projects, LA's Temple of Doom would be one example, MOQ needed space badly. The character of the parish itself is largely conservative with a large immigrant population that is served with Spanish Masses, and also a Polish language Mass (Fr. Dye, the "Priest in Charge" as he is called, also presides at a French language Mass at St. Patrick's on the other side of Norcross). Also the project has the added benefit of saving the parish around $22 million. The original plans to construct a new church would have cost $40 million while relocating an old church is expected to top out around $18 Million.
So What Will Replace the Old Church?
Replacing the old temporary parish building will be a much larger 1/3 scale reproduction of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. This church, formerly St. Gerard's in Buffalo New York, is being completely de-constructed and being moved 900 miles south to the suburbs of Atlanta. Where it was closed in 2008 due to dwindling numbers of parishoners in its home diocese, it will be re-constructed in the middle of the fastest growing suburban community in the nation.
The building itself is a neo-classical design made from limestone, marble, granite and plaster, making it durable and easily disassembled for transport. Looking at the pictures it reminds me of two St. Joseph's churches. One in Marksville, La, and the other in Cleavland, Ohio while thankfully avoiding the fate of the latter.
The parish of Mary Our Queen is taking donations ( which are tax deductible) at their website MovedbyGrace.com