LUMBERTON — St. Francis De Sales Catholic Church broke ground on Sunday for a social hall at the church’s current location on Elizabethtown Road.
Several church officials, including Monsignor David Brockman from the Diocese of Raleigh, took part in the groundbreaking, with at least 100 parishioners on hand, according to Rev. John Gillespie.
St. Francis De Sales was established in April 1916 in downtown Lumberton, and moved to its current location on Elizabethtown Road in the former St. Madeline Sophie Catholic Church in the late 1960s, Gillespie said. The former school building of the church was converted to a parish hall. Gillespie said the current hall is inadequate, and that a newer, larger one is “desperately” needed.
“We’ve been very limited. We can’t do a whole lot of social functions here at all,” he said. “… They’re just large classrooms. You can’t fit too many people in there without being uncomfortable. Any gatherings you would have there would just go out into the corridor.”
The new building will seat about 200 people comfortably and will be used for a variety of functions, including classes, meetings, dinners and parties. Gillespie said the church hopes to have construction complete sometime in the spring.
“They’re still refining the design, and they’re meeting tomorrow morning here to keep tweaking it,” he said Wednesday.
The church is “hoping to stay” within its budget of $675,000, Gillespie said. About $175,000 of that was taken from a fund created in the 1990s for a new church.
“Subsequent pastors held off on it and held off on it, so it’s laid dormant,” he said. The remaining funds came from the Diocese of Raleigh.
Gillespie said the church has between 450 and 500 members.