SALT LAKE CITY — St. Vincent de Paul parishioners gathered Jan. 4 to celebrate the completion of the renovations that had kept them from worshiping in their church for three months. During that time, new lighting was installed, carpets were replaced with hardwood floors, the church was retrofitted to bring it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the baptismal font was moved to the entrance, and an ambry to house the holy oils was added, among other changes.
Fr. John Norman, pastor, conducted the Jan. 4 celebration. Bishop Oscar A. Solis had planned to attend but was called away to attend the national bishops’ retreat (see the story on p. 1).
The renovation affected several of the essential elements of a Catholic church, Fr. Norman said in his remarks. In addition to the new baptismal font and the ambry, the tabernacle was moved to “a place of great dignity,” the presider’s chair is now directed toward the community of the faithful and the ambo was modified. These elements “needed to be highlighted and brought forth to the community,” he said.
Although no changes were made to the altar, the sanctuary modifications “allow the altar to be more vividly present to us,” he said.
In his concluding remarks, Fr. Norman thanked those gathered for their support of the renovation. Some individual donations were of more than $50,000; “the most memorable gift was three one-dollar bills given by a boy in our kindergarten class at our parish school, who wanted a nicer house for Jesus;” and many parishioners gave donations somewhere between those amounts, he said.
He also recalled parishioner Debra Adams, “who was part of our very first conversations about how we could make our sanctuary accessible to those in wheelchairs,” he said. Adams, a past chairperson of the diocesan Commission for People with Disabilities, died Nov. 4, 2017, “but we know that she is uniquely present here this evening,” Fr. Norman said.
Completing his remarks, he said, “What a wonderful gift we have given to the future of our parish.”
To thank Fr. Norman for his “expert leadership, patience and caring for our spiritual needs” Sharon Butler, a member of the parish council, presented him with a rendition of a charger plate that has been commissioned. The charger, which will be made by the same artist who made the basin for the baptismal font, will be cast of bronze.
In thanking Fr. Norman, Butler said, “You saw this project – which was incredible, and we know it kept you up at night – through to its completion, despite setbacks and unforeseen delays. You protected the architectural integrity of this church by emphasizing the historical manifestations that make up this building. And certainly those of us over the age of 35 appreciate the new lighting.”
The lighting is a definite improvement, said Deacon Dave Osman, who has been a St. Vincent parishioner for 15 years. “It used to be so dark, now we’ve got all that light flashing down. … The renovation was long in coming.”
The railing that was added in the sanctuary to help meet ADA requirements was a help to LaRee Osman, she said, because she recently had surgery and was able to use the railing to walk up the ramp to the ambo to serve as lector.
The renovations are “lovely,” said Cathy Lambert, who attended the celebration with her husband, Bob. “It’s lighter, and the hardwood floors are beautiful and the altar is a different use of space.”
Having the project completed “seems almost unreal,” Butler said, adding that she enjoys the effects of the changes to the worship space. “It’s much more prayerful and faith-filled because of the ambiance.”