St. Mary Church is in the middle of its largest renovation project ever, and everything is on schedule to open on Palm Sunday! Since January, the main church has been closed for construction. Here’s a look at what’s happening behind those doors.
Daprato Rigali Studios is undertaking the project. So far, they have torn out the old floor and are laying Travertine non-slip tile throughout the church. Up above, the ceiling wood has been cleaned and will be covered with several coats of varnish for a shiny, new look.
The platform for the new sanctuary (the area around the altar) has been enlarged and will come out five feet further than before. Eventually, it will be tiled with marble. To make up for the lost seating up front, extra pews will be installed in the back of the church. A ramp will come up to the sanctuary to make it ADA accessible.
The enlarged sanctuary will accommodate more chairs and celebrants comfortably. The new altar, yet to be installed, will also be marble and include a carving of the Last Supper, made in Italy. In the center of it all will be a brand-new tabernacle, which, according to St. Mary business manager Stephen Warunek, “is probably the biggest oval kind you can get.”
Two side altars for the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph will also be installed to match the marbled look of the sanctuary and will include candle holders.
Other planned changes include:
- Moving the choir area to the back right corner (when facing the altar) of the church.
- Shifting the ambo (podium) to the opposite side of the sanctuary.
- Refinishing all the existing pews and adding a few new ones
- Replacing the fabric on all the kneelers
- Tinting the ceiling windows (to the relief of anyone who ever had to deal with glare during Mass)
- Improving airflow and lighting
- Repositioning the speakers
“The construction of the parish worship space is moving rapidly,” says Father Dindo Billote, pastor of St. Mary. “I am very pleased that the project is on schedule for the April 8th Consecration of the new altar by Bishop Hicks and our grand opening on Palm Sunday!”
Father Billote reiterates that a driving force behind the renovation is the need for more room in the sanctuary for concelebrating priests, deacons, and ministers during the Mass. The Diocese of Joliet also requires marble altars instead of wood. Finally, the worn carpeting needed replacing, so the parish decided to install tile instead for a cleaner look and easier maintenance.
A second phase of the renovation project, which will include the chapel and narthex, is scheduled to begin immediately after Easter.
To keep parishioners apprised of renovation progress, the parish has set up a live feed with updated construction photos every 15 minutes here.
Stay tuned for more updates!