BAY VILLAGE, Ohio - Church services can be moving, but for the community of faith at Saint Raphael’s in Bay Village, moving will have an added meaning.
Following the 12:30 p.m. service, there will be a procession from the church to the nearby parish activity center. The move to the activity center will house the congregation for 14 months while a new church is built on the site of the current church.
Saint Raphael Parish was founded in 1946 and held services in various places in Bay Village, including Bay High School, until the current church was finished in 1953.
The 1953 building holds 650 people and was ample space for years, but as the 21st century approached, it was clear they needed more space.
“We have several masses a weekend and with the declining number of priests, we needed to look ahead and say ‘OK, how can we best serve the people of God?’” said Father Tim Gareau, pastor at Saint Raphael.
Father Gareau helped develop a master plan which envisioned a new church and now that dream, a $5 million church able to house 1,100 worshippers, is set to break ground.
“It's an over $5 million project, which is huge and massive, but it will service us for many, many years to come and service us well, so we can grow in spirituality and our love for Christ," he said.
Father Gareau acknowledges there are mixed feelings about demolishing the current church on Dover Center Road. Sixty years of weddings, funerals and other memorable events have made a lasting memory for the community. He said church is more than a brick and mortar building.
“We are the people of God and we are church and church moves through us as we move through the Holy Spirit and the spirit of God in our hearts.”
The new church will use the marble, the altar and other parts of the current church. The church’s stained glass windows were installed in 1990 and were from the closed St. Joseph Church. In the new church, they will be arranged in a way designed to complement the stories told on each window.
Spoiler alert: If you plan to attend a service at Saint Raphael’s this weekend, this will steal the thunder from Father Gareau’s homily. The 1953 cornerstone of the church has long been missing; Father Gareau discovered it tucked away in the boiler room.
The new church will open in August 2015.