Major renovation at St. Mary Catholic Church
Our Town Norway
NORWAY — On Christmas Eve, St. Mary Catholic Church in Norway opened its doors for services after a three-month renovation.
Construction began in October, with many church volunteers doing the demolition work.
“It only took two days to remove and dispose of material,” said the Rev. Timothy Ekaitis, pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church. “Many hands make light work.”
The project was scheduled around the weddings that were planned, with the last one in October and the first one of the new year taking place Saturday, Ekaitis said.
Two of the major renovations
Brand-new white oak pews with a carved fleur de lis design — the French symbol for Mary — were installed.
“The pews were 71 years old and starting to show their age,” Ekaitis said. “They were delaminating and had several cracks.”
The pews were subcontracted out by Dewitt Church Goods in Green Bay, Wis.
Matt Wells laid porcelain tile in the main walkways, with new carpeting under the pews as well as the two sacristies, confessional and adoration chapel.
“The carpeting was 28 years and really needed to go,” Ekaitis said.
The handicapped entry and elevator, as well as the side stairwell, got new carpet as well, with new treads on the stairs.
Pete LeFleur built and installed a new, wider cabinet where the tabernacle sits.
This was made more prominent to display the angels and candelabras, Ekaitis explained.
They also upgraded the lights to more energy-efficient models that will save money.
“We wanted to make it a little more beautiful in here as the house of God,” Ekaitis said.
Despite a few delays, they were able to make deadline, he said.
“A router that was used for the pews had broke and then the workers ended up getting COVID,” he said, adding the pandemic did make the project slightly more expensive as well.
He stressed that parishioners have been amazingly supportive through this rough time. “Well beyond my prayers,” he said. “They take great ownership and pride and they donate their time and their treasures.”
The 1928 church has received many makeovers through the years.
The first major renovation came in 1992, with an oak elevation and redo of the sanctuary, along with new altar, sanctuary furniture, carpet and refinishing of the pews and some wallpaper and painting.
An elevator was added in 1999 and in 2003 they upgraded the electrical system, repaired plaster and completely repainted and decorated the church interior.
The 2018 remodel was done after they had water issues in the church basement area. They ended up renovating about 10,000 square feet.
The church hall, now called St. Joseph Center, frequently hosts a variety of activities for church members as well as the public.
They have done many public events over the years as well, including the Dickinson County Community Chorus concerts for Holy Week and serving as a rotating homeless shelter for the Light At the Inn.
“When we redid the rooms in the hall, they were able to keep in mind this service — adding a shower and laundry service,” he said.
The kitchen and hall is also used for many functions such as Guilt Guild meetings, the Taste of Chocolate event and funeral luncheons.
“People been very generous to donating to projects such as this because they like reinvesting in their church,” Ekaitis said. “This is really a gem. For a city the size of Norway, this is an incredible, beautiful church and is gigantic, when you stop and think about how big the facility really is.”