In talking about the renovations that have been done in St. James Church with the students of St. James School, Principal Chet Wisniewski said that the word that kept coming up to describe the new look is “awesome.”
The St. James students were among the first to see the new church as they celebrated Mass this morning. Wisniewski said that, having seen the completed church, he had taken students into the church Wednesday to familiarize them with the changes. He said that because of all the changes, he didn’t want the students distracted from the reason they were in the church.
“It was an amazing transition,” Wisniewski said. “The parish should be very proud of their efforts to get it done.”
Chief among the renovations was a new baptismal font at the back of the church. The students all walked by and dipped their hands in, making the sign of the cross before taking their seat in a pew.
When Wisniewski first saw the renovations, he said that he was taken back by the beauty that had been created within the church. After having seen the new church, and being new this year, he said that he can barely remember what the former church looked like.
While the renovations weren’t done for the First Sunday in Advent, which was last Sunday, the new facility will be open for most of Advent season.
Father Troy Richmond said previously that he thought that it would be at least five more years before St. James could afford a needed renovation to the chapel. That is until an anonymous donor made the work possible with a $150,000 matching donation.
“Thankfully generosity enabled us to move forward at a much quicker pace,” Richmond said. “It is fitting that this church was built in 1962 and the gift came forward in 2012 – at the 50 year anniversary of the church building.”
Plans for the renovation began in 2010 when Richmond arrived at St. James. He said at that point, the plan was to purchase new flooring, new pews, a new sound system and new lights for the chapel. As planning continued, the small project grew into a larger renovation which now includes redesigning the sanctuary area, a place for prayer, and the baptismal fount will include a full emersion baptismal pool.
Wisniewski said that the new sound system worked really well. He said that during the first service, with soloist Heather Greiner, or even with the congregation singing, the sound was amazing.
About five years ago, the church had expanded by building a new parish center.