Geri Stratman, 82, didn't think she would live to see the renovation of St. Pius X Catholic Church.
It has been “a very long time coming,” said Stratman, who has belonged to the church at 69th and Blondo Streets since 1955, a year after its founding in 1954.
The $3.7 million renovation began on Aug. 1, 2011, and will be completed Friday. MCL Construction was the general contractor, and the architect was the Leo A. Daly Co. Archbishop George Lucas will preside at a dedication Mass at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, said the Rev. Mike Eckley, the pastor of St. Pius X.
Eckley said planning for the renovation started 16 years ago, but it took a back seat to the church's growing school population and the school's need for resources and maintenance.
“The building wasn't efficient,” he said of the church. “The roof was old, the insulation was minimal and the air-conditioning unit was old. It is going to be much more efficient, and it's much more responsible in using resources.”
The newly renovated church will have a new worship space, offices and restrooms. The original stained glass windows and mahogany paneling were retained.
Over the years, the church raised $2.2 million for the project. A new, five-year fundraising campaign was launched earlier this spring to raise the remaining amount, plus an additional $200,000 for an improvement that people won't see.
Installation of a new wiring system will provide better sound reception and quality for hearing-impaired parishioners with certain hearing aids, said Sheryl Butler of Hearing Access Solutions LLC of Glenwood, Iowa.
“It's like a wireless receiver right direct into the hearing aid,” she said.
Butler heard about St. Pius' renovation through a member of the Hearing Loss Association and contacted the church. Eckley said a proposal by Hearing Access Solutions was quickly adopted, and the church raised additional funds to install the system.
The church will hold a special Mass at 9:30 a.m. June 10 for the hearing-impaired, so they can experience the system.
“One of our parishioners was telling me after morning Mass that she had already talked to her audiologist about ... making sure her hearing aid was equipped with what she needed to be able to hear better. She was very excited about getting into the church and experiencing it,” Eckley said.
Stratman, too, is excited to enter the newly renovated church. And after waiting nearly six decades, she said, it will be an emotional experience.
“We worshipped well through all these years, you know, in the little church, but it really will be an awesome experience to walk through the front doors to see the total renovation.”
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