The parishioners of St. Joseph Parish are celebrating in preparation for Christmas with the completion of renovations to their church. The six-month project for the main church, one of the largest in the diocese, meant parishioners attended Mass in the Cody Enrichment Center.
Bishop Felipe Estévez was the principal celebrant for the first Mass in the newly renovated church on Dec. 19, where he blessed the altar and those present. Msgr. Michael Morgan, a priest of the Diocese of St. Augustine and canon lawyer for the Apostolic Nuncio in Washington, D.C., was also present. Father John Sollee, who served as the parochial vicar at St. Joseph before leaving to study for a master’s degree in theology, gave the homily.
Bishop Estévez praised and thanked the parishioners of St. Joseph, saying, “You have made this possible. Thanks to your donations, your support, and your stewardship. It would not have been possible without you.”
“This is a much more fitting house for God, as our patriarch, David, asked of the Lord,” he said. “So, we now come and enjoy this beautiful place.”
The $4.5 million renovations were part of an ongoing $6.5 million capital campaign that has taken two years and counting. The upgrades include a new roof and exterior paint, an expanded altar, refurbished pews, a new wooden crucifix to hang over the altar next to the wooden statues of Mary and St. John the Apostle that were hand-carved in Italy.
“Time has taken its toll on our church, but thanks to the continued financial support of the parishioners of St. Joseph, we were able to make some much-needed repairs and renovations,” said Father Sebastian George, St. Joseph’s pastor. “We put out the plea, and the parishioners came through with flying colors. We’re so grateful for their sacrifice and willingness to support our parish family.”