Ceremony opens Parish Center for services as work continues on St. Joseph

The Processional Canopy covers the Monstrance during the Eucharist Procession from St. Joseph Church to the Parish Center. The canopy is being carried by (clockwise from front left corner) Alan Hoffman, Tim Bell, Pat Gehlhausen, and Maureen Braun while Father Anthony Thomas carries the Monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament. They were followed by members of the choir and parishioners. (Photos by Matthew Crane.)

As work at St. Joseph Church moves into Phase 3, a special Mass was held Monday morning.

After sharing in communion, the attending parishioners witnessed a special ceremony in which the Blessed Sacrament was placed into a Monstrance and taken from the chapel into the Parish Center.

More photos below.

After a brief service in the new worship area, many of the churchgoers began to move materials from the church as workers prepared to begin renovations on the interior.

The improvements and renovations are being completed in a phased approach.

Plans began in 2014 when a group formed to take on the challenge of completing the largest renovation and restoration project to the historic church since construction was completed in 1880. Holding fast to their call to be the generation to update the church for the next 140 years, the group launched the renovations and $10 million capital campaign under the name, “Our Time”.

Fundraising began earlier this year, and according to finance committee chair Dan Fritch, they have raised a bit shy of $9 million.

“We’ve taken some time to make sure we had a plan in place for this day,” Fritch said. “Everybody is excited. I think things are going really well.”

Fritch said he addressed the parishioners this past weekend as they prepared for the major change in worship services.

Recognizing that the building holds cherished memories for many families in Dubois County, Fritch said he reminded the parish that the church is made up of the people. “I told them we are the living stones of this parish, it is not just the brick and mortar,” he said. “That is what we reminded everyone of this weekend as we prepared to make the move from the building.”

Phase 1 was completed in 2018 and 2019 with the restoration of all of the churches stained-glass windows. 

Phase 2 began in May to address issues on the exterior. These extensive repairs include tuckpointing, resurfacing, and even replacing blocks too damaged to repair. They also plan on addressing issues on the grounds around the building like adding better drainage to help with moisture as well as add new exterior lighting to highlight the church at night and provide extra security. The parking lot will be repaved and the drop-off/pick-up area will be expanded. The bell tower, steeple and roof truss segments are also in need of repairs.

According to construction chair Alan Hoffman, Phase 2 is on track to be completed in November.

The move to Kundek Hall marks the beginning of the third phase of the renovation. Phase 3 will bring about the most visible changes to the building. Updates include the addition of a gathering space at the entrance to the church. A windowed wall with three entrances will be added close to where the final row of pews currently sit. This will enclose a large area that creates a transition space from the outside world into the sacred interior of the church. 

Other improvements include an updated sound system, new pews, new stairways to get to the balcony, and many other aesthetic additions like new lighting and flooring.

“It has been a journey,” Hoffman admitted adding that they are on schedule with the project. “We are very comfortable with where we are. We set this date about two years ago and we are here and we are going to make our Phase 2.”

The interior work is expected to take about a year to complete.

Father Andrew Thomas told parishioners that work will be underway this week to prepare Kundek Hall in the Parish Center for Mass starting on Saturday, September 4. Then, Mass, Adoration and other liturgical events will be celebrated there. Doors will open 30 minutes before Mass times. The worship space will open for prayer at 7:30 a.m., Monday through Friday.

To learn more about the plan to repair, restore, and preserve Saint Joseph, or how to participate, please visit www.SaintJosephJasper.org.

Father Thomas offered a blessing before Mass was held in St. Joseph’s Church.
Sylvia Metzger shares communion with Becky Beckman during the final Mass held before the church was closed for renovations.
Les Lorey holds the Bible as Father Thomas prays and reads at the end of the Mass held in the church Monday morning before services were moved to Kundek Hall while renovations begin on the interior of the church. Caleb Hayden assisted in the ceremony.
Father Thomas places the Blessed Sacrament into the Monstrance prior to moving it over into the Parish Center.
Les Lorey and Caleb Haydon lead the procession from the altar in St. Joseph’s Church Monday morning.
Father Thomas placed the Monstrance on the new altar in Kundek Hall in preparation to move into the temporary location while work is being completed on the church.
After the service on Monday, volunteers began moving items and furniture over into Kundek Hall to prepare for services to be held there beginning this Saturday.
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