HUNTSVILLE — For the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation on April 7, St. Florence Mission provided a clean, well-lighted place – the remodeling that had been completed the week before included new laminate flooring to replace the 20-year-old carpet; overhead lights in the chapel, where there had been none; and fresh paint.
Greeting the congregation, Bishop Oscar A. Solis commented that the faith community was gathered in a spirit of joy not only because of the season of Easter but also in thanksgiving for the new look of the church.
Because the mission is such as small congregation – with about 150 registered parishioners – the Confirmation class typically joins with one of the Ogden parishes for the conferral of the sacrament. This year, however, Bishop Solis celebrated the sacrament at the mission, and afterward blessed the newly remodeled space.
As part of the remodeling, a crucifix, a baptismal font, statues of the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, and a stained glass window were purchased through the generosity of an anonymous donor.
“Holy Mother Church reminds us that we, too, are called to be saints, to seek the grace to come and put God first in our lives.” Bishop Solis said prior to blessing the crucifix and statues. “The crucifix, a symbol of our faith, reminds us that following Jesus Christ is never easy, and perhaps even more so in our difficult and challenging age.”
Other renovations to the building, which opened in 1999, included new doors inside and out to meet Safe Environment requirements, and new cabinets. Also, the folding partition that had been used to separate the gathering space from the chapel was removed. Ray Bertoldi, a parishioner and president of Ray Bertoldi Architects & Associates, oversaw the project.
The printed program for the celebration thanked Bertoldi, “who so generously donated his valuable time and energy, mediation skills, and architectural genius for the benefit of the St. Florence community.”
For his part, Bertoldi said it was humbling to be a part of a project “in a place where there are life-changing events.”
The need for additional lighting in the chapel, where there had been only wall sconces, and replacing the carpet had been discussed for several years, Beth Keswick said. She and Maureen Tomasula were co-chairpersons of the remodeling committee. For various reasons the project had never been undertaken, but “this particular time we had the support of Father [David Gaeta, the administrator of the mission], and we had enough money in the till, we had a good core group and Ray Bertoldi’s guidance, so we all pulled together and we got the blessing of the parish council,” Keswick said. “It was driven largely by the fact that the space was not very well lit, and we needed to repair the carpeting anyway.”
Fr. Gaeta said parishioners approached him about the remodeling shortly after he became administrator of the mission in August. The program acknowledged him as “our precipitator, facilitator, mediator, and fiscal guide. His willingness to take on this tough and stressful task in his short term as pastoral administrator made the remodel of the interior of St. Florence possible.”
To complete the project in seven weeks, the work crews needed full access to the building, so the congregation chose to meet for Mass in the Eden Community Center, Fr. Gaeta said. He and Keswick both complimented the parish community for helping move items from the church, storing them, and moving them back in once the remodeling was complete.
“Everybody kind of pulled together,” Keswick said.
The renovation has created a prayerful, intimate space, she said, and seeing it for the first time “brought tears to my eyes. It was very emotional. It was like we’d accomplished what we wanted to. … We were good stewards of the space, which was our goal.”
“It’s so much more open and bright,” said Deacon Terrance Waiss, a longtime parishioner.