The new North Pole Chapel at Santa’s Hide-A-Way Hollow in Middlefield was blessed during a Mass celebrated by Bishop Nelson Perez in September. Father Dan Schlegel, secretary for clergy and religious for the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, concelebrated the liturgy. He was pastor of Holy Angels during the parish’s #WeGiveCatholic fundraising initiative that netted $27,000 to help build the chapel. The final price tag was $350,000, but thanks to donated materials and labor, it cost about $250,000.
#WeGiveCatholic, the 24-hour online day of Catholic giving, will take place on Dec. 3. It coincides with the National Day of Giving, which is observed the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
“Having known Santa (Bill Dieterle, a parishioner) for many years, Holy Angels got on board right away,” Father Dan said of the campaign to raise funds for the chapel. Ground was broken in August 2017 during a parish picnic at the site.
Santa’s Hide-A-Way Hollow is a 93-acre village where it’s always Christmas. It features a post office, bakery, general store, town hall, barber shop, tailor shop, toy store and more. There also are live reindeer, a carousel, fishing pond and other activities. Terminally ill children and their families can be invited to visit Santa’s Hide-A-Way Hollow to celebrate Christmas and have a retreat from the reality of their illness.
The new chapel, which has a rustic look, seats 101 and features bright red carpeting and a red, white and green decorative window that says “Believe.” A large Nativity scene is on display all year.
“This is what was missing from the village,” Bill said. “This is a place for children who don’t have a church. It’s a place where they can be remembered. It wasn’t built as a place of gloom – it’s a place of God, a place of joy where you can laugh and sing. And it’s a place where some families can have one last Christmas.”
“Now this place is dedicated and enshrined in those who walk in and out. Only God knows what’s in their hearts and what this place and his spirit will elicit. God always listens to us – even in our anger and despair,” Bishop Perez said during the dedication. “It was built with the power of love – given without expectation of anything in return except hope and believing. Forty years ago, Santa had a dream and now every day is Christmas for Bill,” he said.
Santa’s Hide-A-Way Hollow started with two buildings. Now, thanks to years of expansion, the village can accommodate nearly 1,000 people. An estimated 192,000 people have visited since its inception.
For more information on this year’s #WeGiveCatholic, visit wegivecatholic.org.