At a time when many congregations are dealing with deteriorating church infrastructure, members of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Lindsay dug deep and worked hard to pay for an extensive repair and restoration project.
Over the years, moisture had penetrated the brick walls of the church on Russell Street and caused the plaster walls and ceiling to deteriorate to the point ecclesiastical paintings applied to them were threatened.
The first stage is to remove the paintings, which are done on canvas so the plaster can be replaced. Sixty feet above the floor, the paintings are covered with 110 years of dirt.
“We check the state of the canvas itself, see what condition it’s in. We do a full cleaning of it, using a special soap we use to make sure we’re hydrating it, make sure there are no cracks in it once it’s back in place,” said Jason Donovan or FPDR Limited.
Replacing the roof and the work on the exterior in addition to the interior restoration, painting and plaster work will cost $3.5 million.
The full amount was raised through donations and fundraisers by parishioners. Twenty different fundraisers were held, including the sale of $3 million worth of gift cards, fish fries and sponsorships of bricks and kneeling benches.
Pastor Tom Lynch says it’s not surprising, given the original St. Mary’s church was built with the pennies and potatoes of Irish immigrants shortly after they arrived in Lindsay in the early 19th Century.
“So it shows you the incredible testament to their faith, and I think it’s good that we ourselves can continue that, to add to that growing, living faith as well,” said Lynch
The church will be re-dedicated with a special mass December 10.