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St. Patrick Church community breaks ground for new church

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St. Patrick Church parishioners and pastoral staff broke ground for their new church in Fredericksburg Dec. 7. 

The groundbreaking ceremony, which was held outside with hundreds gathered, began with a Liturgy of the Word service led by Father John A. Ziegler, pastor; Father Jerry A. Wooton, parochial vicar; and the Very Rev. Francis M. de Rosa, dean of Deanery VII and pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church in Colonial Beach. 

“I’m elated that we have finally come to this day,” Father Ziegler said.  “The need for more space has been present since before I came here, but the present church is all that they could afford at the time.” 

Seating capacity will expand from 225 to 609 and the lower level of the church will be used as classrooms, allowing the middle school students currently housed in decades-old trailers to move into a more permanent setting.

Father de Rosa blessed the perimeter of the future church with holy water and stopped to bless a wooden cross marking the site of the altar as well. 

“This is a great blessing for the diocese,” Father de Rosa said. “Father Ziegler has been dedicated and focused for the past nine years on erecting a new house of worship for the Catholics of this parish. It is a tremendous service to future parishioners.” 

Parishioners are enthusiastic about the expansion. 

“We are very excited about the new church. We have been praying for it and finally today it is happening,” said Charmaine Mueller, the mother of four children who each went to St. Patrick School.  

Other parishioners were quick to praise the benefits of the improvements to the school.

“It’s been a long time coming. I have already had a daughter graduate from here and two are in middle school now with lots more to come. To be able to put them in a permanent structure, I’m just very excited about that,” said Michelle Sullivan, the mother of seven. Her son, Sean, was one of the altar servers during the Liturgy of the Word. 

The ceremony came to a close after Father de Rosa and Father Ziegler, temporarily donning hardhats, used gilded shovels to take two scoops of earth from an exposed square in the parking lot.

Father Ziegler also received praise from the experts on site for his innovative and cost-effective approach.

“It’s about efficient as you can make it. I think he is getting everything out of it that he possibly can,” said Bob Nashed, diocesan planning manager and the project manager for the new church.

Nashed estimated that construction for the new church will be completed in about 15 months.

 “We will need even more parishes than this in our deanery, and this groundbreaking today is proof that we have dedicated Catholics who are making that happen,” Father de Rosa said.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018