Around Articles Columns Editorial Hispanic Apostolate Letters Opportunities Profile ShorTakes

May 23, 2016 | Volume 91 Number 15

ARTICLES

photo: Bishop DiLorenzo sprinkles holy water on the new granite wall of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Stauton during the reite of rededication. With him is Adam Landry, altar server, and Father Joseph Wamala, pastor. Other clergy present were Deacon Paul Mahefky, Diocesan Director of Real Estate; Deacon James Kledzik, of St. Francis, and Msgr. Andrew Cassin (hidden from view).

Bishop DiLorenzo sprinkles holy water on the new granite wall of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Stauton during the reite of rededication. With him is Adam Landry, altar server, and Father Joseph Wamala, pastor. Other clergy present were Deacon Paul Mahefky, Diocesan Director of Real Estate; Deacon James Kledzik, of St. Francis, and Msgr. Andrew Cassin (hidden from view).

St. Francis of Assisi, Staunton, rededicated

After almost a year of intense workmanship on the exterior of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Staunton, Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo officiated at the rededication of the building May 8 at the 11:30 Mass.

The work on the church, built in 1895, was necessary because the original serpentine green stone of the building’s exterior was crumbling. The existing walls were 20 inches thick and included five layers.

The contractors removed the outer eight inches and replaced it with eight inches of new brick and the new granite which came from New York.

“This was chosen because it was the closest color match to the serpentine green stone of the original church,” said Matt Fitzgerald, an architect as well as parishioner who was hired by the parish to work with the contractors and engineering firm during the construction project.

The roof was not replaced, but copper finials and decorative elements were replaced. The eaves at the base of the roof were also replaced.

The brick surfaces inside the bell tower were repointed and a new membrane roof was installed on the inside of the bell tower.

“We started on the work when the church was 120 years old,” said Father Joseph Wamala, pastor. “Over the years there’d been a few repairs here and there, but this was a major renovation.”

Cost of the project was $3.2 million. A large part of the cost will be paid from the Diocese’s Living Our Mission capital campaign. St. Francis parishioners raised $1.895 million dollars, surpassing its goal of $1.8 million.

Father Wamala, a native of Uganda who has been pastor since 2011, said “some parishioners had worried that the renovation work would never begin because they were afraid the church might be closed.”

photo: St. Francis of Assisi, Staunton

St. Francis of Assisi, Staunton

“Some parishioners were skeptical about the renovation work,” Father Wamala explained. “It had been talked about for some time, but nothing was started.

“They were relieved when the actual renovation work began and they knew the church would be preserved for another generation.”

Father Wamala thanked the approximately 650 families of St. Francis of Assisi for their generosity to the capital campaign.

“The success was due to the generosity of the people and their spirit of sacrifice,” he said.

As just one example, he said a few families canceled their cable TV service in order to more generously contribute to the Living Our Mission campaign.

Lantz Construction of Broadway, VA, was the general contractor.

The masonry work was done by Rugo Stone of Lorton.

WDP of Charlottesville served as consulting engineers.

In his homily during Mass Bishop DiLorenzo commended St. Francis parishioners for their faith in responding to the message from Easter and the Ascension of Our Lord in which “you have been invited, exhorted and persuaded to continue the work of Jesus Christ.”

“You have responded to that call,” the Bishop said.

Pointing out that the rededication of the church occurred on the celebration of Mother’s Day, he acknowledged that mothers today face many challenges in raising their children by having to deal with pressures which include drugs and alcohol, peer pressure of their children and the overuse of technology.

“You also have to deal with high risk behavior and try to keep your children safe from bullying and violence,” Bishop DiLorenzo said. “Your role involves teaching right from wrong and teaching respect and manners.

“There is a clear identity to being a Catholic,” he continued. “The challenge of living up to the challenges of God is there. Moms have real burdens and challenges, no doubt about it.

“The question becomes ‘what kind of help do I get?’”

Bishop DiLorenzo said this help comes from the church community in which they gather with others who share their Catholic Christian faith.

While he asserted that the church is not just the building, “but it is you and me,” the Bishop said the gathering space is “the church where the Word and sacraments are celebrated.”

“You meet Jesus here and you look at all the challenges. The help is also there to understand your faith and what it means to be a follower of Jesus.”

He encouraged mothers to continue to follow their Catholic Christian faith, adding “doing the right things enhances who we are as persons.”

“Here in this church community moms get the strength to do the right thing,” he said.

“For all you have done, I want you to know I am very grateful to you and for this community in which Jesus is found,” Bishop DiLorenzo concluded.

back to top »