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St. Bernard's is Building Campaign

Our Plans to Expand and Enhance
our Church and Educational Facilities

For over 120 years, St. Bernard’s Catholic Church has been ministering to the needs of Thief River Falls. And while facilities and faces have changed over the years, one thing remains the same…our commitment to Christ, to one another, and the betterment of our community.


Established in 1896, we built our church at its current location in 1948 and expanded and built our beautiful worship space in 1988. Today our church is an active community with an increasing number of ways that people of all ages can participate in the spiritual, educational, social, and service ministries of our church. Yet, despite our strong heritage of activity and accomplishment, we face some significant challenges.

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Our Needs
Just as our forefathers and mothers sacrificed to make our church better,
we are called to do likewise for those who will follow.

Difficult Knight Avenue Church and School Entrance

  • Unsafe Access: the steps are cracked and crumbling, and the ramp is long, steep, and uneven.

  • Difficult Distance: the long distance from the curb to the entrance is difficult for those with mobility challenges and young families.

  • Unprotected Drop-off: the distance to the entrance can be unsafe in poor weather conditions, undoubtedly affecting Mass and event attendance.

  • Funeral Problems: navigating the steps or ramp with a casket is especially challenging. 

School and Church Security Concerns

  • School Visitor Access: we lack a secure visitor check-in area and cannot monitor visitors once they are inside the building. 

  • School Security: our church and school hallways are open to each other and all traffic. 

  • Accreditation Requirements: we are mandated by our accreditation process to have a secure school facility by 2023. 

  • Parent Expectations: to keep our school growing, we must meet the expectations of parents of a secure school building for their children. 

  • Church: access to non-school areas is not monitored.  

Restroom Concerns

  • Inconvenient Location: the distance from the church to the school restrooms is difficult for many.

  • Safety Concerns: church events on school days means that adult visitors share the students' restrooms, which is a safety and security concern.

Fellowship Hall Deficiencies 

  • Too Small: the basement space is too small for the large church social events we host.

  • Difficult Accessibility: the elevator is too small to be easily used by those with mobility challenges.

  • Limited Availability: because the fellowship hall is also the school cafeteria, daytime events must be limited, and outside groups cannot use the facility.

Classroom Limitations

  • No Gymnasium: our students must change into gym clothes, dress for the weather, then cross the street to the city auditorium for their physical education classes.

  • Inadequate Preschool Classroom: the former church library is poorly located, not designed to be a classroom, and is too small.

  • Daycare Needs Unmet: high-quality daycare is hard to find in our area, but we are unable to provide this service due to lack of space.

  • Safety: No building fire sprinkler system

  • Air Exchange and Conditioning: Do not meet the current standards for classroom fresh air exchange and cooling.

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Office Problems

  • Decentralized Offices: church and school offices located on different floors and buildings is inefficient and make communication and collaboration difficult.

  • Difficult Logistics: moving between the church and school offices requires going outside or through (and disrupting) the preschool classroom.

  • Lack of Space: church offices, storage, and workspace are small, inconvenient, and inefficient.

  • Church Office Visitor Access: not handicapped accessible nor are the associated meeting rooms for church office visitors.   

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Adoration Chapel Inefficiencies

  • Limited Availability: lack of a small, intimate chapel for Adoration limits availability for this important, reverential church activity. 

  • Space Usage: holding Adoration in the large worship space is an inefficient use of heating, cooling, and lighting. 

Our Plans

God calls us to care for and cultivate all that He has given us…not to be complacent, but rather to constantly strive to be better, to build on and improve what we have… always trying to realize our God-given potential.

Looking towards the future, the Thief River Falls area is projected to grow by 1000 new jobs. St. Bernard’s Catholic Church and School want to be ready to accept those employees and their families as potential new members of our church and new students to our school. We want our church and school to be an attractive, accessible, and safe faith community for everyone.


We plan to expand and enhance our church and educational facilities to better meet our needs today and into the future.


New Knight Avenue Church and School Entrance

The existing exterior ramp and steps will be replaced with a new two-story building entrance to the front of the current church, providing a street-level entry to the church and school.  The entrance will welcome all parishioners and guests with interior steps or elevator to the church level and will retain the existing brick facia and statue of St. Bernard.  This centralized entrance will provide access to the Adoration Chapel, school, parish/school offices, and the hallway to the multipurpose room/gymnasium.


Increased School and Church Security

With the office reception area next to the entry, visitors will have easy check-in access to the secured areas of the school and office.  Parishioners will have open monitored access to the church, Adoration Chapel, and other non-secured areas of the facility. The secured areas of the facility will have security cameras and electronic controlled doors monitored and controlled by office personnel.


Additional Restrooms

New restrooms will be added to several of the existing and additional areas of our facility.  These areas include the new entrance, multipurpose room/gym, and new classrooms as well as two new restrooms serving the Gathering Space and church.  The existing restrooms located in the main hallway of the church and school will be for the use of the school students and staff with a second-floor restroom being added.

Centralized Offices

The new office area will be centralized and accessible from the new main entry (located on Knight Avenue) and will provide visitors a handicapped accessible and secure location to contact all parish and school staff.  It will also provide efficient office and storage space needed of having all staff working in a single location.


Adoration Chapel

The new Adoration Chapel will provide a small intimate chapel for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with 24/7 parishioner access.  This chapel can also be used for daily Mass, small weddings, or funerals needing seating for up to 35 people.  The chapel sanctuary wall will be constructed to replicate our current church sanctuary wall with a centered round window and side windows.

Fellowship Hall/Gymnasium

A new multipurpose room is planned to provide a fellowship hall able to serve nearly 400 people for parish events and is complemented by a large donated stained-glass window on the east wall.  The room will also serve as a gymnasium for our school.  This room will have a portable center divider wall to increase its capabilities.  This divider will allow parish functions such as funeral receptions or other events to be held on one side while the other side is being used by the school.  The new kitchen will be able to support food service for large events when serving both in-house and carry-out meals.


Three New Classrooms

Our Preschool, Pre-Kindergarten, and Kindergarten programs will be conducted in new classrooms designed specifically for early childhood half-day programs.  These classrooms will be used for student daycare for the balance of the day.  A new required early childhood playground will be right outside the building.  For the days of inclement weather, students will be able to use the gymnasium for exercise and play. 


Our Campaign

Our aim with this important effort is to raise the funds needed to expand and enhance our church and educational facilities to better meet our needs today and into the future.

Gift Options

All members are asked to consider gifts toward this special campaign above and beyond their regular offerings. Gifts can be made in a variety of ways.

  • Long-Term Subscriptions: Pledges payable over three years are easier for most givers and essential to meeting our goal. It would be impractical, if not impossible, to reach our objectives with one-time, out-of-pocket gifts. Gifts may be made in monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual installments. A 10% initial investment is encouraged.

  • Non-Cash Gifts: Another way to support our cause is with non-cash gifts. For example, securities such as stocks and bonds; real estates such as land, homes, or vacation and rental properties; or personal property such as artwork, automobiles, jewelry, and antiques.

  • Deferred Gifts: You can support our efforts through deferred gifts, which can be given now but not received until later. These can include gifts through a will by bequest, life insurance policies or annuities, and trust arrangements.

Giving Opportunities

Recognize that all you are and have, are gifts from God and respond appropriately by sharing what you have in a loving and lasting way with those who seek to do His will and work. This is the essence of what it means to be a sound steward, to emulate the example and become a disciple of the ultimate steward, Jesus Christ.


There are several special giving opportunities available to donors of qualifying gift amounts. These giving opportunities show what the church can do with gifts of various levels. They also allow for the unique chance to dedicate a gift in honor or memory of a loved one.


Item prices are not necessarily reflective of their actual costs but, rather, are based on the item’s prominence, our needs, and our community’s gift abilities. Although these gift contributions may be made over the three-year giving period, recognition will be given when the gift is received in full.

Gift donors will have their names or the names of those they honor commemorated especially, as will all campaign donors.

Please  Join Us

Whatever the gift or your method of making it, please know that your support is both urgently needed and greatly appreciated. Through the prayerful, volunteer, and financial support of many, and the extraordinary support of a few, we will succeed.

Won’t you please join us in this exciting and essential effort to better serve one another, our community, and Christ?


Suggested Pledge Plan

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