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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

102717 olr ren 2LEXINGTON — On Oct. 7, their parish’s patronal feast day, members of Our Lady of the Rosary Church gathered to celebrate the successful completion of an extensive church remodeling effort led by the parishioners themselves.

They gathered for Mass, offered by Father Ambrose Akinwande, pastor, to give thanks to God for everyone who labored to make the project a reality, and they marveled at the beauty of the refurbished nave and sanctuary.

“If I hadn’t seen this church from the outside, I would have never dreamed it was the same church,” said visitor Ted Young, who came in to help move the organ, one of the larger components of the project.

The renovation began as a straightforward beautification project for the 75-year-old church – fresh paint and new carpeting, etc. – but the scope expanded as parishioners’ enthusiasm for the idea grew.

Parishioners ended up completely remodeling the nave: removing the cry room and repositioning the organ and choir on a new raised platform at the rear of the church; installing new carpeting; repainting the walls and enhancing them with local cultured stone; and replacing the nondescript drywall ceiling with planks of southern pine that were stained a dramatic dark brown. In the sanctuary, the carpeting was replaced with a highly reflective white porcelain tile to pick up the beautiful light streaming through the tall stained glass windows behind the altar.

Parishioners chipped in with their own labor, saving thousands of dollars, and they worked for three years to raise money from special events for the project, which totals an estimated $70,000.

Gail and Kenny Capone spearheaded golf tournaments at the Asheboro Country Club and silent auctions in order for the renovation project to begin. The parish’s Hispanic community also raised funds from several festivals it hosted. The parish also used $46,520 of its “Forward in Faith, Hope, and Love” campaign money on the project.

Said Gail Capone, “We first set out to raise enough money for paint and new carpet, and look at how much more there came to be. It’s all just so amazing and so beautiful.”

102717 ol renovationsOnce the parish had the money it needed for the renovation project, Father Akinwande and parishioner John Bloxsom consulted with the Diocese of Charlotte Properties Office to finalize the designs, select materials, and line up teams of stonemasons, electricians, painters and more to see the project through.

Bloxsom is grateful to Morlando for his guidance throughout the project. “His expertise was invaluable, and really made the project flow,” he said.

Parishioners did all the demolition work starting in June. They also sanded and stained all of the ceiling planks – a savings of nearly $6,000 alone. They removed all the pews for the carpet to be installed, then put them all back in place and did the final cleaning just in time for the parish’s feast day celebration.

Father Akinwande and Bloxsom said they have been simply amazed at how many people from all walks of life came together to beautify Our Lady of the Rosary Church.

“Just the fact that we can all look up at the ceiling for many years to come and say that we had a hand in that…we all stained those planks,” noted Bloxsom’s wife Karen.

“Momentum really began to build and many people stepped forward to donate additional funds in their enthusiasm and joy after seeing such good things taking place at their house of worship,” Father Akinwande said.

Bloxsom noted that the project ended up being about more than beautifying a church: it became a unifying force for the parish.

“As the project progressed, people got excited,” he said. Coming together to stain the ceiling planks, move the pews, clean the church and so much more, gave English- and Spanish-speaking parishioners the opportunity to get to know each other better, share meals, and have fun.

“It is beautiful, if I do say so myself,” he said.

— Julia Fredrica Foy Michaels, correspondent

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