House Reborn: St. Augustine’s to welcome back parishioners after restoration project

Published 10:20 am Saturday, October 6, 2018

After five months of painstaking work, St. Augustine’s parishioners will be returning home.

Every step of the way, the church continued its transformation. New stained glass windows were installed, and the ceilings were painted in its now-named shade “heavenly blue” that sparkled with gold lustrous stars. Heaven could very well be closer to the parishioners, who will come back on Sunday, Oct. 7 at 10:30 a.m. Mass for the dedication ceremony. Retired Bishop Bernard Harrington will also be present during the dedication ceremony.

Following the dedication will be a picnic lunch and music performed by parishioners and Pacelli Catholic Schools students at 1 p.m. that is open to the public.

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Father James Steffes recounted the amount of detail and work that went into the restoring of the 122-year-old church that was built in 1869.

Father James Steffes looks up to the interior of St. Augustines Catholic Church as work to refurbish the inside of hte church comes to an end. Eric Johnson/

The new tiles that run the floor of the sanctuary, the baptismal font that stands in center of the sacred space, and the restored wooden statues of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary that prominently look out into the parish, all tie in together the hope that Steffes has for his parish: a sacred beautiful place to honor God.

“It’s God’s house,” he declared, beaming. “It should be the most beautiful house in the city. Beauty elevates the soul, and seeing beauty draws one closer to God.”

This vestibule not only shows off the bright golds of the paint, but the refurbished wood work around the statue of Jesus. Eric Johnson/

Gone are the skeletons that were the metal crossbars and scaffolding that had enveloped the sanctuary for months. Since May, the parishioners had been attending services at St. Edward’s Church while the $1.2 million renovations were completed.

Steffes particularly enjoyed watching changes happen gradually at St. Augustine during the time of the project.

There’s still some minor work that still needs to be completed, but St. Augustine will be ready to welcome its members home, just as Pacelli Catholic Schools wraps up its Homecoming Week. Steffes considered the dedication ceremony on Sunday to be a part of those festivities. Every once in a while, parishioners would stop in to take a sneak peek at their home church. The emotion displayed, were priceless, he added.

A heavenly blue decorated with stars graces the ceiling of St. Augustintes. Eic

“There is a lot of excitement and a lot of desire to come back home,” Steffes said. “They’re just so excited. It’s really beautiful, and a lot of work went into this project. A lot of things happened on a faith level, and they will feel the presence of God in this place.”

Pacelli Catholic Schools students will also be returning to St. Augustine for their weekly Mass at the church, and graduation ceremonies are expected to continue at the parish now that the renovation work is finished. For Steffes, seeing the finished remodel would help future generations to continue worshipping at St. Augustine, and that there would be more “inspiration” for Catholics to continue practicing their faith.

“I pray that this space inspires people to practice their faith more,” Steffes said. “It’s about inspiring people and to find refuge and real hope to encounter God and his incredible goodness. …it’s not a church without its people.”