Construction begins on addition for historic St. Mary of Lourdes Church
GERMANTOWN HILLS — Groundbreaking ceremonies took place at St. Mary of Lourdes Church here on May 18 for an addition to the rural church that has welcomed Catholics to its prairie location west of Metamora for 150 years.
The addition will serve as the entrance to the church and will include a multipurpose room, restrooms, a confessional, and a gathering space.
It will be built on the church’s west side, the church’s traditional entry point. A small vestibule extension will be removed, and the new addition will match the historic church’s red brick façade.
Construction is expected to be completed by October. Beginning this weekend, Masses will be celebrated in the parish center.
Father Vien Van Do, administrator of St. Mary of Lourdes Parish as well as St. Mary Parish in Metamora and who played a major role in moving the project forward, presided at the blessing and groundbreaking. Because of rain, the blessing ceremony took place inside the church with participants socially distanced. After a break in the weather, parish officials — including Father Gregory Jozefiak, former pastor who is on medical leave — went outside to turn a bit of ground with shovels.
O’Shea Builders of East Peoria is the design and building contractor.
In addition to the features listed above, the new addition will include a basement and a covered drive-through/drop-off area. The basement will provide an area of refuge for worshipers in the event of severe storms.
The project will also provide several upgrades within the church itself. The stairs to the church balcony will be reworked to improve access, the nave will be repainted, and a sacrarium will be added to the
existing sacristy. The multipurpose room will serve as a cry room for parents with young children, with the wall between the new room and the church opened to include a large viewing window.
The restrooms will include a bride’s room.
“The purpose of the project is to try to upgrade the existing church,” said Bernie Koch, chair of the 15-member steering committee overseeing the project’s planning. He estimated certain upgrades to the church — which has no running water or bathrooms — had not been made in a century. The gathering space will be especially welcomed. Traditionally, parishioners have visited in the church aisles after Masses.
Father Vien, who has served as parish administrator since November, lauded the work of O’Shea Builders and the steering committee, especially citing Koch, Ileen Grebner, and two parish trustees. “All of them are very professional, experienced, and patient with one another,” he said. “They are wonderful people,
He also thanked Bishop Jenky for his approval of the project and other diocesan officials for their assistance.
Both Father Vien and Father Jozefiak pointed to the new confessional as a welcome aspect of the changes.
“It will be great to have a real confessional,” said Father Jozefiak, noting the church has made do with a make-shift confessional behind a screen in the sacristy.
The new addition measures about about 25 feet by 40 feet. The entrance will be accessible without stairs.