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Our historic church is a blessing from God

and you are invited to join us as we restore and beautify this sacred space.

Our History

Our History

In 1886, Irish and German St. Mary parishioners built a large gothic style church using nearby stone and bricks. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979. With a seating capacity of approximately 500 people, that building still stands today and serves its faithful with five weekend Masses.

 

It has been renovated a few times across the years (1929, 1947, 1959, 1970, 1971), but its most recent renovation was completed in 1984 by Fr. Enke.

Sacred Architecture

The Rules of Sacred Architecture

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Our parish church adheres to the traditional rules of Sacred design in the Catholic Church. As we get to know our church building and make plans to beautify this space, we must keep the following in mind:

1. Our church is a sacramental.

When a Catholic Church is built, she is carefully consecrated by the Bishop. When St. Mary's was built (and after her renovations), our Bishop would have blessed the building and set it aside for a very holy purpose. In this way, our church is like the rosaries and holy water we use in daily liturgical life.

2. The church is a member of our parish.

We must treat our church building as a member of the parish, as she works diligently to point our community to Christ. She evangelizes passersby in a way that none of us can through her Beauty!

3. The church uses traditional symbols derived from holy numbers and geometry.

Throughout human history, we have come to use certain shapes and numbers to point to God. This is why the church is shaped like it is! Ultimately, the church is pointing us to an encounter with God on the mountain top!

4. The church is a depository for memory.

We have two thousand years of memory in the Church which we remember through our daily worship and the many images on the walls and upon the altar. 

Our Needs

Our Needs

Over the past 40 years, the interior of our church has experienced the visual affects of age:

 

  • The walls, made of plaster, have cracked and in some places fallen to reveal the lath below.

  • Our vaulted ceiling and intricate columns, made of corrugated metal and amazing detail, needs a fresh coat of paint.

  • There is damage to our wooden altars.

  • Our laminate tile flooring has cracked and is missing in some areas of the nave.

  • Many of our pews and kneelers are damaged.

  • Our current confessional can't be used due to Protecting God's Children protocols.

  • Our organ no longer worked and the console has been removed. We are currently renting one in the choir loft.

Additionally, we have other maintenance needs throughout the building, including:

  • Two stain-glass windows need to be removed, re-leaded, and restored.

  • Our HVAC condenser needs to be replaced.

  • We have damage to our roof and four leaks which need fixed.

  • Our attic often serves as a bat habitat during warmer months, and we need to minimize their access.

  • We recently fixed a beam in the attic which needed to be reinforced with a bracket to the brick. Other beams also need to be reinforced before they become a problem.

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Our Proposed Design

Proposed Design

William Heyer Architect, an expert in Catholic architecture, studied our parish and her history in order to create a design proposal for her beautification. This design takes into account all the rules of sacred architecture, while also restoring much of our church's history.

This design helps to create a timeless, unified appearance that can be enjoyed for many years to come.

A Phased Approach

A Phased Approach

In order to address our needs for the church while maintaining a realistic budget and renovation schedule that does not impede too heavily on St. Mary School, we will be breaking down the work into several phases:

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01

Plaster & Painting Part 1

Summer 2024

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02

Plaster & Painting

Part 2

Summer 2025

03

Flooring & Pews

Summer 2025

01: Plaster & Paint

Thanks to our generous donors, we will begin work this May 2024 by fixing the cracked plaster and updating and restoring the paint inside the sanctuary space. Our proposed design has been created by a sacred architect, William Heyer, based on our parish history.

Cost: $150,000

01: Plaster, Paint & Audio

We will continue fixing the cracked plaster and updating and restoring the paint inside the nave in 2025. We are currently raised about 55% of the funds for this next phase.

We also hope to update our audio throughout the church with new wiring and speakers. Lighting may also be updated during this time--based on donations received.

Estimated Cost: $237,000

02: Floor, Pews, and Kneelers

We will continue our beautification with new floors, pews and kneelers in 2025. This also includes restoration work for another stain-glass window in the nave and an update to the back of the church. This update will rearrange the cry rooms and narthex to allow for more room and better seating.

Estimated Cost: $400,000

03: Capital Campaign?

Beyond the work in our first 3 phases, there is also a potential possibility to create a connector between the church and school in order to eliminate the breezeway and offer more restrooms and better accessibility to the church. We also hope to add more decorate painting to the sanctuary with Eucharistic imagery inspired by our history.

Likely this will be after our 2025 projects are complete, to begin fundraising in early 2026.

Estimated Cost: TBD

Help Beautify our Chuch

Help Beautify our Church

We have currently raised about $256,000 toward our proposed capital projects.. This means that we still need to raise about $131,000 for Phase 02 next summer, and another $400,000 before fall 2025 to complete Phase 03!

Will you prayerfully consider contributing? Your gift can make a huge impact!

Right now most needed gifts for 2024 are going toward decorative painting  and our plaster repair & base paint throughout the entire nave. A talented muralist has been chosen to paint detail work, and your gift can make this possible!

Questions about your donation? Want to learn more about our specific needs? Please reach out to our Director of Development, Kristin Story, at kstory@delawarestmary.org.

Time & Talent Also Needed!

Unable to give financially? We also need parishioners who can dedicate their time and talents! We currently need:

 

  • Volunteers for the St. Mary Festival, as all proceeds go toward the beautification fund!

  • Assistance moving statues and other valued items in and out of the church.

  • Young Men (ideally ages 16-35) interested in joining our "MENtorship" Program over the summer, serving the community while learning from experienced men in the parish about carpentry, wiring, landscaping, and more.

  • Cleanup at the end of summer is critical to getting us back into the church by the Feast of the Assumption! We will need help sweeping, dusting, polishing, etc.

  • Construction-related skills: Let us know if you have the skillset to offer assistance in any way! Your knowledge is so valuable!

Interested in serving any of these needs? Please reach out to our Beautification Committee at beautification@delawarestmary.org

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