Fennimore church rededicated after restoration project Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Mar. 06, 2014 -- 12:00 AM
Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison delivers the homily during the 11 a.m. Mass on Sunday, March 2, at St. Mary Church in Fennimore. Bishop Morlino dedicated a new altar at the Mass bringing to completion a project to restore to church to how it looked more than a century ago. To view or purchase photos from the event, go to (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

FENNIMORE -- “Whoa!”

That was the simple word of exclamation uttered by a young girl as she entered St. Mary Church in Fennimore on a recent Sunday morning.

While the words used by others in the church may have been more sophisticated that day, the feelings were more than likely similar to those of the young girl’s.

Upon entering the church that Sunday morning, parishioners and visitors got a chance to see the completed work of a restoration project to bring the church back to its original design from more than a century ago.

The project, which began work last summer, was aimed at returning the church to the beauty that can help the faithful perceive the mystery and splendor in the liturgy and serve as a “visual catechesis” of the faith, according to Fr. Miguel Galvez, parochial administrator of Queen of All Saints Parish, which includes St. Mary, along with St. John Nepomuc Church in Castle Rock and St. Lawrence O’Toole Church in Mt. Hope.

The restored beauty

The restored church features a mural of Our Lady Queen of Heaven -- the patroness of the parish -- and paintings of angels to emphasize the importance of the sanctuary. The co-patrons of the parish community, St. John Nepomuc and St. Lawrence O’Toole, also appear in the mural.

A high altar, inspired by the church’s original altar, includes a statuary of the crucifixion of Jesus, as well as statues of St. Peter and St. Paul. Two side altars honor Mary, the Virgin Mother, and St. Joseph.

A freestanding altar features a hand-carved Last Supper image. There are also newly-installed altar rails.

On Sunday, March 2, Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison presided at the 11 a.m. Mass at St. Mary Church to dedicate the new altar.

“How proud you must be and how proud I am about the restoration of beauty in this church,” Bishop Morlino said during his homily. “It is impossible to come into a beautiful church like this and not realize the beauty of God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” he added.

He called the parishioners a “beautiful people” with a “beautiful house,” not only for the magnificence of the church’s interior, but also for their works of charity. “The love of Christ is present in the Eucharist and then takes flesh in your individual acts of kindness and charity to others.”

A ‘beacon of faith’

Bishop Morlino went on to call the church a “beacon of faith to the whole diocese.” He added, “people will hear about this and they will come to see it,” and he said visiting parishioners may feel their home parish needs a “facelift” too.

Following the homily, the new wooden altar was dedicated.

Relics of saints were placed under the altar, making it “continuous” with the practicing faithful, going back to the early days of the Church when Mass was celebrated over the tombs and relics of saints.

Then, the altar was anointed with sacred Chrism. Bishop Morlino said when the consecrated oil is used at Baptisms, Confirmations, and ordinations, it consecrates those receiving those sacraments as “special servants” to God.

By anointing the altar with chrism, it is “consecrated to the Father to be a sign and symbol of Christ and for special service.”

Incense was then used over the altar before Father Galvez and the Mass servers prepared the altar for the consecration of the Eucharist as Mass continued.

A thankful parish

Before Mass concluded, Bishop Morlino thanked everyone who helped with the Mass and the efforts to restore the church, including Father Galvez and his work to make his parish “come to life.”

In his letter in the parish bulletin, Father Galvez thanked the bishop for coming to St. Mary to dedicate the altar.

He also thanked everyone who helped with the renovation through prayers and donations. He said, “It is a great occasion for all of us to celebrate our beautiful church which gives such glory and honor to God.”

The parish is working on making a plaque that will credit everyone who gave memorials for the project. For those who still want to donate for a specific memorial, the parish said there are remaining items that can be donated.

St. Mary Church is located at 930 Jefferson St. in Fennimore.

For more information, including pictures of the restoration process, visit,

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