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Work starts on new St. Alexis Church; building could open in spring 2017

| Sunday, June 12, 2016, 8:54 p.m.
The Rev. Paul Zywan talks with his congregation as ground is broken for a new St. Alexis Church building in McCandless, Sunday, June 5, 2016. The North Hills parish was founded in 1961 and growth made the expansion possible.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
The Rev. Paul Zywan talks with his congregation as ground is broken for a new St. Alexis Church building in McCandless, Sunday, June 5, 2016. The North Hills parish was founded in 1961 and growth made the expansion possible.
The St. Alexis congregation joins Bishop David Zubik to break ground for a new church building in McCandless, Sunday, June 5, 2016. The North Hills parish was founded in 1961.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
The St. Alexis congregation joins Bishop David Zubik to break ground for a new church building in McCandless, Sunday, June 5, 2016. The North Hills parish was founded in 1961.
Bishop David Zubik chats with parishioner Gretchen McCabe as ground is broken for a new St. Alexis Church building in McCandless, Sunday, June 5, 2016. McCabe and her husband, Larry, have been members since 1966.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Bishop David Zubik chats with parishioner Gretchen McCabe as ground is broken for a new St. Alexis Church building in McCandless, Sunday, June 5, 2016. McCabe and her husband, Larry, have been members since 1966.
Bishop David Zubik prays before ground is broken for a new St. Alexis Church building in McCandless, Sunday, June 5, 2016. The North Hills parish was founded in 1961.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Bishop David Zubik prays before ground is broken for a new St. Alexis Church building in McCandless, Sunday, June 5, 2016. The North Hills parish was founded in 1961.
The planned St. Alexis Church, shown in a rendering.
Courtesy, Diocese of Pittsburgh.
The planned St. Alexis Church, shown in a rendering.

Members of St. Alexis Parish in McCandless broke ground, and construction has started on a new church building.

The Rev. Paul Zywan, pastor, said the building should be completed in May or June 2017.

Bishop David Zubik presided at the groundbreaking ceremony on June 5.

Zywan said a capital campaign began 14 years ago. He said $4.4 million was spent on site preparation and $6.8 million will go toward construction.

Money will continue to be raised for stained-glass restoration and a permanent outdoor canopy.

The new church building will replace one from the early 1960s.

Zywan has been at the parish since 1998 and said it always has been a “vision and dream” of parishioners to have a new building.

“(This is an) appreciation of God's hand and a sign of hope alive,” he said.

Parish business manager Chuck Goetz said the 26,000-square foot structure will be more than three times larger than the current church. It will seat around 900 people and will have greater cry-room space, a modern area for bridal parties and air conditioning.

Goetz said two-thirds of the lower level will remain unfinished and may be made into a hall later.

Phil Ignelzi, of McCandless, a parishioner since 2001, said he was honored to donate.

“(It's) wonderful,” said Ignelzi, a judge on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

Gretchen McCabe and her husband, Larry, both of Adams, were on a “final-push” committee that raised money before the groundbreaking.

“I'm thrilled to (have construction) happen,” she said. “(It's) a dream long in coming.”

Tim Johnson of Franklin Park was on several fundraising committees and praised Zywan.

“He's a great leader and the driving force,” Johnson said.

Established in May 1961, St. Alexis has about 2,000 families as members.

Diocese of Pittsburgh spokesman William Hill said the parish is one of seven or eight to construct new church buildings in recent years. A large number, he said, have made interior church renovations.

Karen Kadilak is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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