New St. Jude Church takes shape

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For the past 15 years, the parishioners of St. Jude Church in Fredericksburg have bombarded heaven with a special intention —a church. The parish, which serves more than 2,800 faithful, has moved three times since becoming a mission in 2003, the last location was a former motorcycle dealership.

“We did our very best to make it look like a church, but everybody knew it wasn’t,” said Father James C. Hudgins, pastor of St. Jude. “The dream has always been to have a real church.”

Oct. 9, 2016, marked the beginning of the end to their waiting. Father Hudgins announced they would break ground on 25 acres on the edge of Fredericksburg. Almost two years later, the new cruciform-style church will be dedicated by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge July 14.

“We have striven to make a church that expresses in stone what we profess in faith,” said Father Hudgins, who worked with O’Brien and Keane Architects to build a church that was iconic, permanent and vertical.

Parishioners were able to watch their church grow from the ground up thanks to two parishioners who took documenting the construction to new heights. For 21 months, Nicole and Andrew Flusche visited the site almost every week, armed with construction hats, a camera and a drone.

With drone in hand, the husband and wife team were able to collect early aerial photos and video when the only thing on the construction site was a cross-shaped hole in the ground — a simple promise of what was to come.

As construction progressed, Nicole shared images of the church’s milestones on social media and the parish website. Parishioners saw steel beams give the church shape, the rose stained-glass window installed and the arrival of the Stations of the Cross — hand-carved antiques rescued from a church in Belgium.

In many ways, being involved in documenting the construction process has helped the Flusches continue a more than 100-year-old family legacy. In the late 1800s, Flusche’s German ancestors saw the importance of building Catholic communities after arriving in the United States. They helped build seven churches from Iowa to Texas; six are still in use today. Since then, many family descendants have continued to preserve the legacy by being involved in church construction. Andrew remembers his parents being on the building committee for his hometown church, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Decatur, Texas.

“It’s important to have future generations celebrate the sacraments and live our faith,” said Andrew. “The parish is where we can all come together and worship and celebrate milestones in life and have events and build community. We are very excited for the future of St. Jude.”

“I’m excited to show this to our five godchildren and really emphasize that this is their heritage, all 2,000-plus years of it summed up in a building,” said Nicole.

With just two weeks left until the dedication, there was still a lot of work to be done. While construction crews assembled the finishing touches on the sanctuary, Andrew and the Knights of Columbus were busy ensuring the property meets all the Virginia Department of Transportation’s regulations.

According to parish Business Manager Hellen Huff, the old location is scheduled to be rented out to other tenants. Volunteers rallied to move the chur­­ch furnisings the Friday before the dedication to make way for the motorcycle dealership’s new occupants. Many of the old statues, pews and altar will be donated to other groups, such as Our Lady of the Valley Church in Luray, Holy Family Academy in Manassas and St. Michael the Archangel High School in Fredericksburg.

“We remember what it was like to start with nothing,” said Huff. ”If we can help someone else, that’s what we are supposed to do.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018