St. Francis of Assisi Parish builds new formation center and oratory
GRAPEVINE – Father Sojan George and his faith formation staff at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Grapevine anticipate forming the minds and hearts of more of their parishioners with the help of a new 15,000-square-foot formation center and oratory.
The $5.2-million project broke ground after Bishop Michael Olson blessed the site in June. As of last month, the groundwork and foundation are finished. The project, facilitated by the architectural firm RGA Architects, is estimated for completion by August 2023.
Jose Salazar, St. Francis of Assisi’s director of youth catechesis and young adult ministries, is excited to move to the larger building due to space constraints.
“We’re currently at capacity on room usage with our various ministries — there’s no more room to place people,” Salazar said. “It’s an incredible problem to have, but with this new building coming soon, I’m counting down the days until we can stuff that building too.”
Fr. George explained they will name the formation center after St. Dominic Savio, a student of the great catechist, St. John Bosco. St. Dominic died at age 14.
“St. Dominic was a friend of youth and a young saint to inspire our youth,” the pastor said.
The parish began a capital campaign in 2018 consisting of two phases, the first of which included renovations to the church sanctuary and other existing buildings.
Now in the second phase, the parish will continue raising money for the new facility through donations. So far, they have generated $3.2 million in campaign funds. Some parish savings will also help pay for the building.
The formation building will contain two floors. The bottom level will be an activity center for youth events with enough room for 100 people.
The top level will include six atriums, or Montessori-style classrooms, each holding up to 25 children.
Fr. George said the top floor’s primary purpose is for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a religious formation program that uses a Montessori teaching style.
“Our goal is to share Jesus with more people, especially our young ones — to give them a good foundation, and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd provides that,” he said. “They can definitely be equipped for today’s world if given a good foundation in the faith.”
Jaqueline Bedore, the parish’s director of children’s catechesis, took the position in July because St. Francis of Assisi uses CGS. She explained that the six new formation spaces will provide children with a “unique setting to grow closer to God.”
“It’s hands-on faith formation, where children come into a prayer space, rather than a classroom,” Bedore said. “It’s in tune with educational needs, but also their physical and spiritual needs.”
She added that the new space will allow the parish to expand their ministry to the Spanish-speaking community, with 16 catechists now in training.
Also attached to the building will be the Holy Family Adoration Oratory, a 35-foot by 25-foot prayer space seating up to 40 people.
Fr. George said he hopes the oratory will eventually allow the parish to organize 24-hour perpetual Eucharistic Adoration.
“The 75th anniversary of the parish is in 2024. In conjunction with the USCCB’s Eucharistic Revival, we want to start Eucharistic Adoration 24/7.”
Bedore said she believes the chapel will “bear great fruit” for the entire parish.
“I really love helping parents know the beauty of the Eucharist and having that breathe a deep faith into their home, one in which families begin to come to Adoration together,” she said.
“I do hope and pray that by giving Our Lord proper reverence that’s due to Him, He will reward us for that.”