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St. Mary Parish plans move from Franklin to Springboro

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

By David Eck

HAMILTON DEANERY — St. Mary Parish in Franklin has agreed to purchase a 17-acre site in Springboro to relocate the parish in the future.

The parish will pay $550,000 for the site, which is easily accessible from the new Austin Road interchange off of Interstate 75. Plans are to eventually build offices and a church that can seat 1,200. An activity center is planned, and the possibility of athletic fields has been discussed.


 
A capital campaign to pay off a loan for the property and raise money for the church will begin next month. There is no timetable for the relocation, and construction will occur as funds are raised.

The current church, which dates to 1913, seats about 240 and the site is landlocked. The building cannot effectively be renovated and parking is an issue.

Relocation has been discussed for at least the last five years to accommodate the growth of the parish. St. Mary Parish has added more than 300 families in the last five years and now has about 930 families. Nearly all of the five weekend Masses are standing-room-only, and parishioners have to arrive about 20 minutes early if they hope to get a seat.

“From my perspective as pastor, we’ve outgrown this little church,” said Father Jim Manning, who also serves as president of Archbishop Alter High School in Dayton.
 
Springboro has doubled in population since 1990, and more than 50 percent of St. Mary’s parishioners come from that area, said Deacon Steve Bermick, parish administrator.

“That was the area that was growing,” Deacon Bermick said. “Our concentration from the beginning was the Springboro area.”

The parish first approached Richard Kelly, archdiocesan chief financial officer and treasurer, about the relocation early in 2009. A feasibility study was completed, and the parish found two possible sites for the relocation, choosing the one that gave them the largest amount of land at the greatest value, Bermick said.
 
Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr approved the purchase last May, Deacon Bermick said, and the parish is securing a loan from a regional bank to purchase the property.

For much of the past decade Warren County has been among the fastest-growing counties in Ohio. St. Mary is one of five parishes in the county.
 
St. Mary officials conducted a parish-wide feasibility study regarding space and overcrowding issues over the past year and received survey responses from more than 500 parishioners. The study indicated that it made sense to pursue relocation and that more than 60 percent of families said they would financially support a new church.

Parishioners Doyle and JoAnn Key are co-chairing the capital campaign. They hope to raise as much as $3 million for the project.

“We want to do this. It’s something that needs to be done,” Doyle Key said. “We see this as an opportunity to honor those who have come before us.”

The campaign is an opportunity to continue the legacy of St. Mary Parish for generations to come, he added. A campaign committee team will meet with every family individually. About 100 parishioners will be part of the committee.

In a link with the past, Father Manning and Deacon Bermick say the parish will incorporate the existing church’s stained glass windows into the new church. The historic Zettler windows were produced in Germany and shipped to Franklin for installation in the church. Other furnishings from the current church may also be used at the new site.

David Eck can be reached at deck@catholiccincinnati.org.

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