Following months of fundraising and renovations, St. George Catholic Church in Linn will hold a dedication Mass at 2 p.m. Sunday to celebrate improvements to the church and school buildings.
The Rev. Dan Merz, pastor at St. George, said Bishop Shawn McKnight of the Jefferson City Diocese will attend, and all priests of the diocese have been invited. Former St. George priests and religious sisters are invited as well, and Merz hopes to have a full house of parishioners.
Following the Mass, there will be a catered meal with photos of the church before, during and after the renovation.
"Sometimes it's hard to remember 'what did this place look like before?'" Merz said.
A little more than $600,000 has been fundraised to pay for the project, he added, surpassing the original fundraising goal of $595,000. Merz said the goal has since been raised to $635,000 because of a few unexpected expenses, but the church hopes to finish without taking out a loan.
"The goal, ultimately, in (the renovations) is to give us a beautiful place to worship so that the environment, you know, has an impact on our spirit," Merz said. "So that we have raised hearts because the ultimate goal is the transformation of each one of us."
The finished improvements include a new roof, new LED lighting, reupholstered pews, new ceiling and floor tiles, an improved HVAC system, and the cleaning and sealing of bricks. Renovations to the K-8 school include asbestos removal and new flooring.
A new altar, ambo (raised lectern), baptismal font, cross, and statue stands and ledges have been crafted by local woodworker James Voss and will be installed in time for Sunday's dedication. The Max Autenribe Interior Design company, which Merz said has done the bulk of the renovation work, will install eight murals of angels to the church's walls before the dedication Mass as well.
Merz said everything is finished for the renovation project except for three large murals on the back wall of the church and installation of solar panels. The murals should be finished by August or September, he added, and a meeting is planned soon to go over a revised bid with a company for the solar panels.
The church also has added three relics brought from Rome. Relics of St. Boniface, St. Hildegard of Bingen and St. Gertrude will be placed in holes cut into a black granite stone under the altar during Sunday's ceremony.
"It's kind of directly taken from the Book of Revelation in the Bible where it talks about the souls of the martyrs underneath the altar crying out to god to bring about his salvation and redemption," he said.
Merz said Sunday's ceremony will be similar to a baptism with seven extra rites — including the anointing of the altar and the walls of the church, an incensation of the altar and a disposition of the relics.