Fr. Francis Passenant is keeping us informed on the status of the church repairs, keeping an eye on the work and on his iPad to document progress. Follow along here for his updates and pictures.

Moved pews make way for the floor cleaning and the start of the lighting plan.

Moved pews make way for the floor cleaning and the start of the lighting plan.

(Report #4 – JULY 7, 2020)

Since the last report written about ten day ago, two of the projects have been completed. The lighting enhancement and the exterior work were both completed before the start of the Fourth of July weekend.

  • The lighting enhancement will brighten the section of the church where the congregation gathers; the better lighting will make it easier for people to read the missal and hymn sheets and participate in services. The new improvement will also allow for more versatile lighting, depending on the need and occasion. (This project has been completed.)
  • The stone restoration work included the Queens Boulevard side of the church, the front of the church, and the side of the church facing the school building. The workers also cleaned the limestone to eye-level on the remainder of the 1938 church/rectory structure. (This project has been completed.)

I have several new pictures to share of the floor work—including “before and after” photos—and the workers power washing with special detergents the front of the church building.

The work on the church floor, which is the major project of this renovation, continues. The lobby and the back half of the
church are completed. Next, the pews, which were previously relocated to the front of the church, had to be moved to the back. It is a time-consuming process to lift and place the pews while protecting the work already done. This work began on Monday, July 6th. In the meantime, as we enter phase 3, the Convent Chapel and McLaughlin Hall are receiving parishioners until the church major repair is completed.

(Report #3 – JUNE 26, 2020)

At this writing we are preparing for Masses to begin again with congregations, though limited in numbers. We are setting up the Daily Mass space in the Convent Chapel and the Sunday Mass space in McLaughlin Hall as we continue with the church renovation project.  We have just completed the first week of work. The church pews were moved toward the sanctuary area to clear the floor for restoration. The first phase of the restoration began with the application of paint remover and stripper to return the church floor under the pews to its original color and the slate stone in the aisles to their unique shade and patina. As you read this, a portion of this work should have been completed.

The lighting enhancement project was “roughed in” before the floor work began. The electrician was able to install ten (of twelve) new eight-foot track lights across each upper set of windows in the main body (the nave) of the church. The lighting in each of the bays of the side aisles will receive an additional set of four recessed lights.

Our Father’s Day was spent with the lighting technician determining the placement of the recessed lighting in each of the bays of the side aisles. During this time-consuming process, various scenarios were suggested using laser guides to measure. The placement of the recessed lighting was determined after much deliberation and the necessity for the technician to go up and down using the “High-Low.” It’s interesting to note that the builders of this church in 1938, who did not have the precision of today’ s laser technology, were only off by one-eighth to one-quarter of an inch. Amazing!

The exterior power-washing project has moved to the front of the church on Ascan Avenue. The Queens Boulevard portion of the building, from the Bell Tower toward Ascan Avenue including the Baptistery, has been completed. The granite and limestone surfaces cleaned of 80 years of pollution exposed the beauty of the original granite and limestone. As the Fourth of July weekend nears, the front face of the church should be completed, with work continuing on the other heavily soiled areas.

(Report #2 – JUNE 16, 2020)

The Generations of Faith Program (GOF) launched in 2015 was a Diocesan Capital Campaign designed to fund parishes, youth, and senior priests. The funds raised were distributed to each of these areas. Each parish was asked to generate a case statement to specifically identify infrastructure projects that needed attention. OLQM Parish case statement identified a new organ, refurbishing our beautiful side altars and main altar reredos, repairing our weathered stained glass windows, laying new cement on 72nd Road and the interior sidewalks on the church property, and refinishing the church floor. The final project has begun.

Church Floor: The planning for this final GOF item, the church floor, was begun over a year ago. The work scope was planned and the companies engaged to complete this massive project. It is being accomplished by first removing the pews to access the floor for stripping, cleaning, and polishing. It is necessary to strip the floor to reveal the original poured cement, to clean away the remnants of paint, and to polish the finish—for the first time since the original building of the church in 1938.

Deacon Daniel Garcia, who heads maintenance at our church

“  This is a historic and exciting event for our Church!”—Deacon Daniel Garcia, OLQM Head Engineer

Lighting Project: This opportunity to clear the floor of the pews also allows us to complete other projects much more difficult to accomplish with the pews in place. We plan to add additional lighting around the perimeter of the church nave, to complete the project funded by the Parish Capital Campaign of 2010, and to replace the kneelers that are wearing out and becoming too expensive to repair.  We are able to fund these projects with resources received from “over goal” achievements in the GOF campaign and the Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA). We have been over goal in the ACA each year since 2013, thanks to your participation and generosity in that effort.

Exterior Power Washing: There was also a need to address the exterior of the church building, which has been adversely affected by more than 80 years of pollution, weathering, and auto emissions from Queens Boulevard and Ascan Avenue. The surfaces of the exterior walls facing these streets are the most affected and the first to be addressed. This project is being supported by our various fundraisers over the years such as the “Fall Fling” and “Taste of the World.”

Power washing the church exterior

Highly visible transformation from dirty to clean, restoring the sandstone color

The timing of these projects was scheduled for mid-June 2020 to be completed by mid-August 2020. Plans were drawn up to use McLaughlin Hall for Mass while the work was being completed and the parish school was not in session. The project started as scheduled in spite of the upheaval caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The first kneelers were removed from the church last Wednesday. The photo on the bulletin cover this week shows the moved pews to make way for the floor cleaning and the start of the lighting plan.

We have been praying for the intercession of Msgr. Joseph McLaughlin, our first pastor and architect of the beautiful parish plant we enjoy today. We ask, like Elisha asked of Elijah, “for a double portion” of his spirit to guide us with wisdom, courage, and perseverance as we oversee these projects for the upkeep of our beautiful church to better serve those who enter here now and in the future. I will have another update next week.

God bless and keep us in your prayers during this exciting time in our parish history.

(Report #1 – JUNE 16, 2020)

James 1:2 says, “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials.” Through this pandemic crisis, you might say we are turning lemons into lemonade.

Our church has decided to go ahead with plans, made a year ago, to do major repairs inside the church this summer.

Project Scope: Now that the city has entered phase one of reopening from the pandemic lockdown, the contractors are available and they begin their work this week. This major repair project should take 6 to 8 weeks to complete. The work involves stripping, cleaning, and polishing the floor in the church and replacing the kneelers in the pews.

Accommodating the Reopening: As we move into phase 2 of reopening, we are looking forward to resuming public worship and ultimately Sunday Mass attendance. Our church plan for reopening will require limiting occupancy at services, following the advice of health officials and the guidelines of our elected officials and the diocese, in order to minimize the spread of the virus. To accommodate overflow, our plan includes using the school auditorium (McLaughlin Hall) for Sunday worship while the church repairs are underway.

We thank our donors for financially supporting Generations of Faith and the Annual Catholic Appeal and for gifts made using the Major Repairs envelope. We ask for your continued support and prayers to bring this project to a successful conclusion.

Sincerely yours,
Father Francis J. Passenant

Thank you for your continued support and prayers.

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