One of the first things you notice inside the expansive new St. Pius X Catholic Church is a wooden crucifix that dangles in the air over the altar.
Crafted entirely of wood, the bottom of the crucifix forms an anchor, creating ledges where sculptures of Jesus’ mother, Mary, and Gospel author St. John will look up to the figure of Christ. The sculptures themselves have yet to arrive from their artist in Germany. But like the rest of the art here, they tell a story from Scripture.
“In a church this large, you have to have something that says this is where the altar is,” said St. Pius’ pastor, the Rev. Bill Schooler, as construction workers stirred dust around him Friday.
What’s hard to believe is that this church, when it opens March 25, will offer the largest seating capacity of all the Catholic churches in this half of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.
Its capacity of 1,300 will be even larger than the roughly 850 that can fit in Sacred Heart Basilica at the University of Notre Dame.
“We’re not building it to be arrogant,” Schooler said of the project, which was spurred by a growing congregation that was running out of space. “It’s not to say we’ve got something better than you do. We really built it for the glory of God. And it’s built on the sacrifice of so many people.”
You won’t see a list of benefactors here, but a $20 million capital campaign that was announced three years ago has raised more than $14 million, said Betsy Quinn, director of stewardship and evangelization. The church itself will cost about $15 million.
Check out a 360 degree view inside the new church below: