ST. MARYS (KSNT) – A Catholic church located in St. Marys is getting a major makeover. Check out some of the updates that have been happening lately.

(Photo Courtesy/Philomena Peters)

The Immaculata Church, nestled in the heart of the U.S., is undergoing a $40 million restoration funded by both local and international donors. Since groundbreaking officially began on May 31st, 2020, the project has made leaps and bounds with the beautification of the old church whose roots stretch all the way back to its original establishment in 1848.

27 News reached out to the Rector Father Patrick Rutledge with the Society of Saint Pius X about the progress the work crews have been making recently and some exciting new dates that will be coming up later this year that you’ll want to put on your calendar.

Rutledge said nearly all of the masonry work for the exterior of the church has been completed now, including the front façade. The majority of the brick work will wrap up this week as the bell towers come together.

Artists have begun painting some of the interior ceilings as well with blue colors that are to be the background for liturgical artwork. Structural arches and columns have begun to be added to the interior too which are all made of granite.

“There’s still a lot of stuff happening behind the scenes,” Rutledge said. “Since December, we have finished the designs behind the altar and we have continued to make progress with the statue makers. One of the statues is completely done and is made out of marble. The most iconic statue of Our Lady, which will go on top of the cupola, will arrive later this year in December and will be gilded in 24 carat gold.”

Below can be seen photos of progress being made on the exterior of the Immaculata.

Rutledge also discussed the addition of five large bells which were cast on Dec. 16, 2021 by the Paccard Foundry in France. The bells, one of which is over five feet wide, will arrive later this year on September 10. They will be consecrated in a special ceremony.

The bells will be placed at ground level in front of the Immaculata where they will be anointed with sacred chrism oils and given the names of saints. Godparents will also be named for each of the bells from among the Foundry Guild members who make up the second highest donation level for the project at $100,000. These godparents will have the privilege of ringing the bells for the first time on the day of the ceremony.

Rutledge reflected on the progress that has been made so far.

“To see it going up so quickly is really amazing,” Rutledge said. “This is something our project team have dreamt of for years, and members of our parish have been dreaming of for forty years. It burned down many years ago. We’re all trying to get to the finish line here and we all want a beautiful and sacred place for the liturgy.”

The Immaculata suffered a large amount of damage in 1978 when a fire ripped through it during renovation work. The church then took another blow in 1980 when storms knocked down the standing walls, causing more extensive damage.

Below can be seen computer renderings of what the finished interior will look like.

As far as a completion date is concerned, Rutledge said it should come in March 2023. He is hesitant to put an exact date down due to uncertainties that may crop up over the course of 2022 and the fact that the project is $3.5 million shy of meeting its renovation costs.

“We have donations from over 24 countries now,” Rutledge said. “I don’t want to presume on other people’s generosity but we’re pretty confident that we can reach the finish line.”

To see a YouTube video of the church bells being cast last year, click here. To donate to the project, click here.