Standing on the marked ground where a new church will be built, the Rev. Jay DeFolco, of Holy Cross Catholic Church of Lake Stevens and Granite Falls, talks about the parish, which will break ground here Sunday. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Standing on the marked ground where a new church will be built, the Rev. Jay DeFolco, of Holy Cross Catholic Church of Lake Stevens and Granite Falls, talks about the parish, which will break ground here Sunday. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Holy Cross Catholic plans groundbreaking on much larger church

For its multiple Masses every weekend, it fills to capacity and beyond.

A large wooden cross rises from the earth at a pastoral spot between Lake Stevens and Granite Falls. On Sunday, a church with a 115-year history will enter its next phase. Soon after a ceremonial first dig, work will start on a new building for Holy Cross Catholic Church.

Standing near the cross where he’ll oversee the groundbreaking, the Rev. Jay DeFolco talked Wednesday about the growing parish he leads. “We’re constantly seeing new faces,” he said.

It was just a decade ago that Holy Cross welcomed parishioners to a new church on its Lochsloy area property, along Highway 92. The Archdiocese of Seattle purchased the land in 1998 for $143,000. That church, in use since 2008, can accommodate “150 people tops,” DeFolco said.

For its multiple Masses every weekend, Holy Cross fills to capacity and beyond. An overflow crowd in a hall next to the church watches a TV feed. The hall building holds about 80 people.

The new church, a steel structure, will hold up to 400. Eventually, DeFolco said, that won’t be large enough. Beyond this $3.1 million construction phase, plans call for an even larger church on the 31-acre site, perhaps to be built 20 years from now. DeFolco, 59, suspects the need could come sooner.

“We’re projecting 1,800 families,” said DeFolco, noting all the subdivisions filling in once woodsy land around Lake Stevens. Holy Cross now has about 600 families. Along with members from Lake Stevens and Granite Falls, people come to Holy Cross from Arlington, north Marysville and the Getchell area, he said.

While his parish serves suburban families of Lake Stevens, Holy Cross has been the spiritual home to Catholics in Granite Falls for more than a century. Founded in 1903 in Granite Falls, Holy Cross Church was once a wilderness outpost. It was a mission church, a satellite of St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Snohomish, where DeFolco was once pastor.

Today, the old wood-frame building at 410 Cascade Ave. in Granite Falls houses a Marysville-based bilingual Christian church, Ministerios Monte Sinai. Painted white when it was Holy Cross, the church is now blue. “We originally wanted to move the old church,” said DeFolco, but because of power lines and its size that would have required taking the building apart.

Holy Cross was designated as its own parish by the Archdiocese of Seattle in 2004. Before settling on its Lochsloy property, Masses were held at the old Granite Falls church and at North Lake Middle School in Lake Stevens. Since 2008, though, DeFolco said the two communities have come together. “We have really integrated to become one,” he said.

The property’s lower 15 acres are in use as a potato field. Holy Cross parishioners and other volunteers, including Archbishop Murphy High School students, pitch in to plant and harvest spuds, which are donated to area food banks. “We grow about 50,000 pounds of potatoes a year, and 5,000 to 7,000 pounds of corn,” DeFolco said.

More than a parish priest, DeFolco serves as a chaplain at the Snohomish County Jail, Denney Juvenile Justice Center and the Monroe Correctional Complex. And during football season, he is the Catholic priest ministering to Seattle Seahawks players.

“I do Mass for the Seahawks before every home game,” said DeFolco, adding that former Seahawks tight end Luke Willson never missed a Mass.

DeFolco has served 11 years at the jail, where he says Masses, and at Denney, where he does an ecumenical service and meets with detainees. He spends two nights a week at the prison, where he has been the Catholic chaplain for three years.

“I find it very rewarding to try to make a difference in people’s lives,” DeFolco said. “Former prisoners sometimes come to Mass.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460;

Church celebration

Holy Cross Catholic Church, a parish serving Lake Stevens and Granite Falls, will celebrate the groundbreaking for its new church building at 6 p.m. Sunday. The event, including a ceremonial first dig, music and a free barbecue dinner provided by the Knights of Columbus, will follow 5 p.m. Mass. All are welcome. The church is at 6915 Highway 92, Lake Stevens. Information:

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