Restore God’s House Campaign
To bring our history of St. Mary of the Angels up to date, let’s look at what has taken place in the last twelve years. Restore God’s House Campaign
Fr. Joseph (Fr. Joe) Landauer joined Fr. Hilary and Fr. Charles on the Priests’ Council in 2005, replacing Fr. John Debicki. With Fr. Hilary as Moderator and Pastor, the three priests worked together to face the challenges of the parish. In 2006 they replaced the windows in the school and refinished pews in the church. That year the school began using computers in its curriculum.
In late 2007, leaks began to appear under the dome, as well as from the roofs or walls of the South Tower and other spots in the church. The South Tower restoration project was put on hold when they discovered the extent of the repairs to the dome, and the parish began setting aside Annual Catholic Appeal rebates for possible repairs. In 2009 water leakage was getting severe and various solutions were proposed, with an estimated cost ranging from 1.6 to 2.5 million dollars. Plastic sheets were installed between the outer and inner domes to collect the water and try to keep it from causing further damage until repairs could be made. The Restore God’s House campaign began at the end of 2009 to raise the necessary funds to begin construction.
Initially the Restore God’s House campaign sought to raise $2.5 million to repair the dome, restore the North and South Towers, and replace the parapet on the façade. Parishioners donated and pledged more than $1.5 million. Work began on the Dome in September 2010. When the scaffolding went up, so did a sign saying “Save the Dome.” This garnered additional donor interest. The Archdiocese gave us a loan for $1.67 million to help us finish the dome project.
When the dome was being repaired, additional damage to the cupola of the dome was discovered, raising the costs of the repair project to $3.17 million. This meant that the parapet and the North Tower had to wait.
But when Fr. Joe’s father died in November 2011, an additional $750,000 was bequeathed to the building fund. About the same time Cardinal George approved St. Mary of the Angels for a debt reduction program where the Archdiocese would match every dollar raised for the Annual Catholic Appeal if we applied it against our debt. The bequest enabled us to fully repair the South Tower and restore the interior of the church (damaged because of the water), while the parishioners raised more than $900,000 by January 2013 erasing our debt to the Archdiocese of over $1.8 million.
I came to the parish in the midst of that campaign, in 2012, replacing Fr. Joe. Cardinal George appointed me as moderator of the Priests’ Council and pastor on May 1, 2014. Most of the issues I had to address in my first year were ordinary repairs and services of the church, but in July 2015 a terracotta cornice came crashing down into the parking lot, shortly after everyone left the 5pm Saturday vigil Mass and the parking lot had cleared—“the angels held it in place until everyone was safe,” it seemed. Engineers surveyed the exterior and secured potential safety issues, using metal bars to secure similar cornices and outer tracery of the stained glass windows; metal mesh was put over beams, bricks, or terracotta on the façade and North Tower. All these were emergency repairs for safety purposes.
Now God calls us to move forward to face these current needs so we can share our faith and this beautiful legacy with future generations. Let us pray that we can continue that legacy with fidelity to Christ and his Church, while loving Our Blessed Mother and all her little children gathered at her feet.
Fr. John R. Waiss
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