The church on Settlement Road plans to build a $955,000 narthex at the front of the building, which was constructed in the early 1850s. The renovation project will add a gathering space, bathrooms, an area to keep parishioners out of the elements, a confessional space and a breezeway that will connect the church and social hall.
“So far we have $735,000 in pledges,” the Rev. Ron Schock said. “We started 11 months ago.”
Construction will start only after 100 percent of the funds have been pledged for the building addition and at least two-thirds of the money has been received by the parish, according to the capital campaign. Schock said that is a requirement of the diocese, but the hope is to start building the narthex in the spring.
St. Alphonsus hired RCM Architects of Findlay to design the addition. Schock said parishioners were “very excited” once they saw the initial plans and people thought the new design wasn’t just functional, but also “pleasing to the eye.”
The church maintenance committee will be the general contractor. According to the capital campaign material, “Jim Wasiniak has agreed to lead the construction team” and the church believes there are “many talented and skilled craftsmen who will, in the end, save us enough money on the project to replace the roof on the church without having to ask for additional monies.”
While the pledge campaign for the narthex started 11 months ago, the planning began nearly four years ago. Schock said that’s when church members provided feedback on what the space should have.
Regarding the gathering space, Schock said it’s an area where parishioners can gather before and after Mass, parents can take their children during worship and for funerals, caskets can be in the back of the narthex.
“People like to stop and talk after Mass,” the priest added.
The addition is one of several renovation projects that St. Alphonsus has undergone recently.
A new layer was added to the steeple starting in October. Church historian Jack Schaffer said that was done because when the narthex is added to the front of the building, a lift machine at its maximum height wouldn’t be able to reach the steeple. He also said St. Alphonsus plans to replace the roof “once the narthex is done.”
In April, the sanctuary finished undergoing a restoration. Parishioner Mike Silcox built new altar furniture while Paul Stang made the presiders chairs. The project also included refinished pews and new paint on the wall and ceilings. Schock said it cost about $200,000, which came from the church savings.
St. Alphonsus averages 200 people per Mass, Schock said.
In addition to the church building, the nearly 40-acre campus includes the social hall, caretaker’s house, parish center, a log cabin where St. John Neumann visited, a shrine to St. Francis of Assisi, shelter house, cemetery and baseball field.