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St. Benedict’s Catholic Church: Celebrating Our Past And ‘Building Our Future Together’

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“Building Our Future Together” is the theme of St. Benedict Catholic Church’s upcoming centennial celebration.
The yr 2017 marks 100 years for the church at its present location on the nook of Court Street and Main Street. An anniversary of this significance serves as a time for the church to mirror and be grateful for the generosity, sacrifice and foresight of its previous members. Their imaginative and prescient constructed a stupendous church that has allowed the parish and its parishioners to develop, flourish and serve for the previous century.
According to Father Phil Gibbs, the centennial celebration is a chance to mirror in one other method as properly: he encourages parishioners to assume and plan like their predecessors, to guage the church’s present wants and put together for the generations the church will serve all through the subsequent 100 years.
With this future in thoughts, the church has determined to embark on a $three.5 million capital marketing campaign targeted on renovating the present constructing. Officially starting over the weekend with shows to the parish group throughout Masses, the capital marketing campaign – “Building Our Future Together” – will proceed via mid-January. Currently, the church has already succeeded in elevating near $1.5 million of its final aim.

The starting
The beginnings of St. Benedicts could be traced again to 1857 when St. Benedict Church was formally established by the Archdiocese of Dubuque. Construction of the primary St. Benedict Church at 512 East Broadway in Decorah befell in 1864. Area farmers hauled the stones for this church from McGregor — a distance of 50 miles.
This construction was famous for its Gothic fashion, stained glass home windows and spectacular bell tower. At the flip of the century, the congregation was rising so quickly that the stone church was quick turning into too small to accommodate its parishioners. Talk of constructing a brand new church ensued.
Construction of the current St. Benedict Church occurred in 1917 underneath the path of Father Hogan. The value of this construction was $60,000, all of which was raised by roughly 100 parish households. Upon its completion, the inside of the church was very stark – white plaster alongside the darkish woodwork that’s nonetheless current all through the constructing. Twenty years after the brand new church was constructed, the unique stone construction on East Broadway, which had been sitting unused and empty since 1917, was razed. In 1941, the church underwent in depth redecoration that concerned portray partitions and putting in stained glass home windows. The end result was the church at this time’s parishioners know.
It has been a few years since a serious renovation has occurred inside the church itself, and the choice to renovate the prevailing constructing was not a hasty one. During 2014-2015, the Pastoral Council, after evaluating the wants of the Decorah Catholic group, the wants of the encompassing space’s Catholic communities and the wants of the constructing itself, determined to pursue the thought of constructing a brand new church facility situated on St. Benedict Catholic School’s grounds.
Ultimately, parish “town hall” conferences have been held and a feasibility research was carried out by the Cosgriff Company to guage this determination. Cosgriff used quite a few assortment strategies to collect knowledge together with private interviews with and surveys of parishioners. The outcomes of the research strongly indicated the parishioners’ emotional attachment to the present constructing and their want to transform versus rebuild. The outcomes confirmed that the development of a brand new facility was not financially or emotionally possible.

Decision to transform
With this in thoughts, the Pastoral Council and the church’s new Renovation Committee introduced in Struxture Architects together with Peter’s Construction to design plans for reworking. After in depth analysis, session with metropolis officers and far creativity, renovation renderings have been created. All events labored diligently to make sure the plans focused the bodily and emotional wants expressed by parishioners through the feasibility research whereas, on the similar time, preserving and sustaining the historic integrity of the constructing.
The Decorah Historical Preservation Group has additionally vetted the historic integrity of the renovation plan. After viewing the renovation renderings just lately shared with members of the church and the group, this group approached the Pastoral Council relating to the church turning into a member of the Broadway Phelps Park National Historical Registry. They expressed their appreciation of the church’s dedication to preservation.
Throughout the feasibility research, it turned evident that, for a majority of parishioners, holding this historic and delightful constructing intact was important. The renovation plan not solely does this however has additionally been particularly famous for doing so by the Decorah Historical Preservation Group.

Three ranges
The proposed $three.5 million greenback renovation includes all three ranges of the church.
On the road degree, the southern-facing addition will present a much-needed entrance and welcoming area. From this new foremost entrance, parishioners will have the ability to enter a brand new chapel, entry restrooms, entry an elevator, use a further staircase to get to the balcony of the sanctuary, and enter the primary sanctuary space.
The chapel, which additionally features a confessional, could have a retracting wall in order that it may be open to the primary sanctuary space at occasions when overflow seating is required. Inside the sanctuary, the altar can be prolonged and some pews eliminated to permit for higher viewing for all, handicap accessibility and more room for musicians and the choir.
The addition may have giant, angled home windows serving as a part of the roof and designed to let as a lot pure mild into the brand new area as attainable. This mild will then move by means of the church’s stained glass home windows that at present line the prevailing exterior of the constructing on each the south and north sides. All the stained glass will stay in place.
The addition additionally features a porticus (Italian for portico – a coated walkway supported by columns and hooked up to a constructing) which can present each a coated area for drop-offs and pick-ups and improved visitors movement. The porticus and full addition mimic the rooflines and general design of the unique constructing and add to fairly than detract from its visible attraction.
The basement portion of the parish can be reworked into a way more accessible and welcoming area. Underneath the southern addition, a brand new, giant kitchen might be put in together with further restrooms and an area for smaller teams to carry conferences. The elevator will present a lot improved handicap accessibility to the basement, and the present ramp (accessible solely by going outdoor) will probably be eliminated.
Additionally, the parish corridor will probably be up to date with the removing of the present paneling, deconstruction of the present kitchen, up to date utilities, new carpet and seating area for 210 individuals.
All these modifications will value roughly $three million. If the aim of the capital marketing campaign could be reached in its entirety ($three.5 million), further updates will happen inside the primary sanctuary. These ending tasks embrace changing the pews, repainting the partitions, changing the flooring and carpet, fixing woodwork and putting in new lights and an improved sound system.

Remove home
Before renovations can start, the church should first take away the home that stands to the south of it on Court Street. This is the one construction standing between St. Benedicts and the Methodist Church. St. Benedicts does personal this constructing. Originally bought and used as a convent, it has been rented out to varied tenants for the final a number of years.
Once once more, within the curiosity of preservation, the church want to see the home moved; if an particular person can’t be discovered, the home will first be opened up for salvage earlier than being torn down. The house is well-maintained, and its inside boasts unique woodwork and lead glass home windows. Anyone serious about viewing the home or discussing buying/shifting it’s strongly inspired to contact the parish workplace at 563-382-9631.
Depending on climate and profitable fundraising, a groundbreaking ceremony for the renovation can be held in late spring or early summer time 2017. The renovation course of is predicted to complete early summer time of 2018.
Anyone fascinated by supporting the renovation is invited to ship donations to the parish workplace at 307 West Main Street. (Please point out capital marketing campaign on any donation.)
Whether it comes within the type of a financial donation, a constructive thought or a heartfelt prayer, the parish appreciates and is grateful for any and all help. This thrilling time in St. Benedict Church’s historical past wouldn’t be potential with out the generosity of its parishioners and the encouragement of the group as an entire.
Today St. Benedict’s Catholic Church serves over 950 households – what a distinction from the 100 households who sacrificed and gave generously with a purpose to assemble the present constructing again in 1917.
The parish is an integral a part of Decorah’s historical past and its religion group; it stands within the coronary heart of the downtown and contributes to quite a few packages all through the Decorah space that help the well being and well-being of Winneshiek County. Together, as a group, St. Benedicts’ parishioners, with their dedication, their sacrifice, their generosity and their want to “Build Their Future Together,” can certainly make these households who constructed the current church proud.

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