CROSSVILLE – Parishioners of St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Crossville gathered on Dec. 3, to witness a new chapter in their parish history. Bishop Richard F. Stika and St. Alphonsus Pastor Father Mark Schuster led a groundbreaking ceremony that included other diocesan clergy, parish building committee members, construction officials and guests. The parish currently celebrates Mass in a parish family life center that was dedicated in 2003. The new 8,000 square-foot church will accommodate about 300 worshipers with room for possible expansion in the future.
“They have a beautiful parish hall, a parish center, but every weekend they have to convert it, move chairs around,” Stika said at the ceremony. “This shows the growth of this community and the diocese, and it’s so special for me to be here.”
Like many churches, St. Alphonsus organized a building committee to develop a favorable design for the much-needed space. J&S Construction effectively partnered with St. Alphonsus and the Knoxville Diocese through multiple design iterations to create a floor plan satisfactory to all.
J&S Construction collaborated with St. Alphonsus and the building committee for nearly two years, battling rising material costs caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, to assist in conceptualizing a new design that would aid the parish’s desire in moving the congregation from a multi-purpose space to a truly dedicated worship facility. The pricing of the new facility, originally designed as a pre-engineered metal building, continued to escalate, causing St. Alphonsus to reevaluate construction efforts. J&S Construction’s design team was able to successfully provide a more cost-effective CMU structure and reach an acceptable budget for the church.
“Talking to the contractors, they were saying that they first got a plan back in 2019, but because of COVID it really shut things down,” Stika added. “So, I have inherited this to see it through to fruition. It’s been quite a learning experience, but the people here who are part of the building committee and the fundraising committee are very driven, they know it inside and out, so just to work with them was very easy actually, but I’m playing a little bit of catchup.”
The new worship facility will include a spacious library with custom built-ins, vesting rooms and several ancillary spaces for meetings. A roof-mounted cupola will be open to the interior of the sanctuary that will allow light to fall directly onto the altar during Mass. St. Alphonsus will select and install elegant stain glass windows and a large cast bell for the bell tower. Many of the furniture pieces selected will be modified by J&S Construction’s skilled craftsmen with local Cumberland Mountain stone.
“It’s going to be a beautiful building,” Stika said. “They have an excellent building committee. Father Schuster has been working with them and the architects. I give a little guidance as the bishop. It’s going to be worthy of St. Alphonsus.”