Faith can move mountains, so the parishioners of Mary Our Queen Catholic Church are using their faith – and fund-raising efforts – to accomplish something that even Bing Crosby, Ingrid Bergman and the nuns of The Bells of St. Mary would have termed “a miracle.”
Mary Our Queen began as a mission of All Saints Catholic Church in Dunwoody, GA in 1994, serving 70 area families in an office building in nearby Norcross, GA. Within four years the church was in a new, albeit, temporary 15,000-square foot structure on 15-acres of church owned land in the North Atlanta suburb of Norcross. The church had even purchased an adjacent 6,000-square foot building which was refurbished and named Trinity Building.
As the catholic population has grown to become the third-largest religious entity in Georgia, Mary Our Queen has also steadily grown, now serving the spiritual needs of 750 local families. But the church is still in a temporary space.
So, the parishioners have decided to “move” a new church to Mary Our Queen. That’s right, rather than move the parishioners to a new church; the new church will be moved to the parishioners – stone by stone.
Actually, the “new” church is the 100-year old St. Gerard’s Church in Buffalo, New York. It was closed in 2008 as the congregation of the neighborhood that St. Gerard’s served in Buffalo declined to such a level that church could no longer be sustained. But the parishioners of Mary Our Queen saw an excellent opportunity and thought the century-old architectural treasure would be the answer to a prayer for the permanent new home of Mary Our Queen Catholic Church.
“It’s very hard to find a church – that you can move the whole thing,” says Father David Dye, Administrator of Mary Our Queen. “Structurally, sometimes, it (the church building) is about to fall apart and if you start monkeying around with it, then it does fall apart.”
The 900-mile move of the structure, built in 1911, will be a pioneering effort; preserving one of America’s truly magnificent works of classical architecture in the Roman and Greek style that will continue to serve the faithful in our community for many years to come – as well as enhance the natural beauty of the area.
“We’re thinking the entire project will take a year-and-a-half to two-years from start to finish, once we have the funding in place,” predicts Father Dye.
The parishioners of Mary Our Queen have gone to the Internet to help raise money for what they call the “Moved by Grace” campaign. The move will cost Mary Our Queen about $16-million – approximately double that of the cost of a “new” church building. So far, the church has raised about one-quarter of the money they’ll need to move St. Gerard’s from its Buffalo neighborhood to its new site just north of Holcomb Bridge Road and Jimmy Carter Boulevard in Norcross. But supporters say it’s not just about money. It’s about preserving history and giving new life to a work of art.