By Drew Mentock
St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Elkhart recently underwent some much-needed renovations to the inside of its church.
Those renovations included new tile to replace the carpet in the sanctuary and new carpet throughout the body of the church. The parish also now displays an old sanctuary rail that had been in storage since the early 1970s. “Now people can come forward to the rail and ask for the intercession of the blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph,” said Rev. Jason Freiburger.
The main feature of the renovations is the lightly colored sanctuary tile floor. The color accents the marble altar perfectly, making the altar the center of attention for anyone who looks upon the inside of the church.
“The space is much lighter and brighter,” said Rev. Freiburger, who has been the pastor at St. Thomas for just over three years. “This helps draw the mind to the heavenly reality that is being given to God’s people when they receive Communion.”
In addition to the renovations, the side altars were moved, giving them the required headspace to feature new, 5-foot tall statues of St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary. They are significantly taller the previous statues.
The entire process took about a year and a half. This included deciding what initial changes to make to the church, raising funds, getting permission from the diocese, meeting with church architect William Heyer and, of course, the actual renovations.
Construction began on Aug. 5 and took just under a month to complete. For the most part, the parish was able to avoid disrupting regularly scheduled Masses. However, there were a few instances where the church had to adjust to the construction.
While the carpet in the body of the church was being replaced, daily Mass was held in Elliott Hall — the parish’s basement. In addition, for one weekend, the parish decided to place a wooden altar in front of the sanctuary. This was done in order to avoid the possibility of someone slipping on any potentially loose tile.
The parish will consider looking at the possibility of future renovations, but for now its members are more than satisfied with the beautiful alterations that have been made.
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