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In 'leap of faith,' Catholic parish builds Protestant church.

FRANKLIN PARK, Pa. -- Sts. John and Paul Parish in Franklin Park, north of Pittsburgh, and its immediate neighbor, the New Heights Church of God, shared the same problem: They each needed to build a church.

But the Catholic parish didn't have enough usable land on its 12-acre property to construct a big enough structure to accommodate its 7,000 members. And New Heights, much smaller with 100 members, couldn't raise enough funds to build on its 12 acres; it was holding worship services in a nearby community building.

The problem seemed insurmountable until representatives of both congregations took what all involved call a "leap of faith." And it worked.

With Sts. John and Paul parishioners contributing expertise in real estate, construction, development and legal matters, the two church communities agreed to a land swap that involved Sts. John and Paul locating a new property for its neighbor, buying the land and constructing a church. In return, the Protestant community signed over its property adjacent to the Catholic parish.

Fr. Joseph McCaffrey, pastor of Sts. John and Paul, calls the cooperation "a beautiful example of ecumenism" and said he takes "a little bit of pride and even humor in the fact that, as a Catholic priest, I built a Protestant church before a Catholic one."

Parishioner Mike McCabe, an attorney who outlined the legal agreement with New Heights, said the project came in $200,000 under budget, because parishioners donated many of their services.

"If we would have had to pay all these people it would have been cost-prohibitive," said parishioner Jerry Horn, whose firm, Jerry Horn Construction Inc., built the church, which includes 4,000 square feet of worship space and 2,000 square feet of office and meeting space.

The all-brick structure, located on 12 acres a five-minute drive from the original property, has seating for 150 and includes a worship center, offices, classrooms and a multipurpose fellowship area.

"Now we can move forward," said McCaffrey. Sts. John and Paul Parish has close to 1,900 families, adding an average of 10 to 15 new families a month.

--Catholic News Service
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Title Annotation:IN THE BEGINNING; St. John Parish, St. Paul Parish, New Heights Church of God
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 6, 2007
Words:352
Previous Article:Quotable & notable.
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