After year of construction, Epiphany in Normal returns “home”

NORMAL — “Welcome home.”

With those words, met with enthusiastic applause from the assembly, Msgr. Eric Powell, pastor, greeted members of Epiphany Parish who were celebrating Mass in their church on July 10 for the first time since a major renovation and expansion began more than a year ago.

And what a beautiful spiritual home it is after an $8 million project that, in addition to renovating the sanctuary and church interior, added separate wings that give the parish a new social hall capable of seating 350 at tables, a child care center, adoration chapel, and office and meeting space.

For the past 13 months, parishioners had gathered for weekend Masses in the school’s small gym and Lyceum. That changed on July 10 when the church reopened for the wedding of Josh Kauten and Emily Kabbes. Later that afternoon came the first regular Mass.

“It was nice we entered with a marriage,” said Msgr. Powell, noting the sacrament’s symbolism of God’s love.

The renovation included much new sacred art, including a painting of the Adoration of the Magi behind the tabernacle and a large sculpture of “The Baptist of the Christ” in the church gathering space. There is generous use of marble — in fact the type of marble is called Epiphany Red.

There are new pews, new carpeting and floor tile, and the use of natural light above the altar and baptistery.

The project was five years in the planning, fundraising, and building stages. An “Honoring the Past, Opening New Doors” fund campaign has resulted in more than $4.2 million pledged.

While finishing touches were being put on the project this week, all should be done in time for a community open house scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 29, from 1 to 4 p.m.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, will bless the renovated church during a Mass scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 19.

Architect for the project was Joe Winkelmann of the Larson & Darby Group, Rockford.

General contractors was Ringland-Johnson, also of Rockford.

Msgr. Powell thanked parishioners for their generosity and also for “bearing with the mess and inconvenience” during the year of construction.

“Day by day, with a hammer blow here and there, we are reaching our goal in the final stretch,” he wrote in the parish bulleting July 18.

“It’s nice to be home.”

Weekend Masses in the renovated church are celebrated at 4 p.m. Saturdays and 7:30, 9 and 11 a.m. as well as 5 p.m. on Sundays.

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