St. Bernard Church in Watertown reopens after restoration Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

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St. Bernard Church in Watertown has undergone a restoration project which included repainting and repair of the sanctuary, nave, main entrance, balcony, and stairways. (Contributed photo)

WATERTOWN -- Watertown Catholics celebrated the grand reopening of St. Bernard Church on September 17.

Boasting an iconic 193-foot steeple since 1873, and celebrated as the tallest structure in Watertown, St. Bernard has been one of the city’s most identifiable treasures.

Much-needed restoration

The much needed restoration, repainting, and repair of the church sanctuary, nave, main entrance, balcony, and stairways began in May 2017. Repairs to plaster, cleaning of historical artwork and stained glass, painting of religious statues, and the restoration of doors original to the 1873 church near the altar were some of the focus projects.

The cost of the project was funded by the $560,000 Aspire Campaign that was completed in 2011, and comprised of fundraising efforts and donations by the parish and community.

Heartfelt appreciation

Fr. Patrick Wendler, pastor for St. Bernard and St. Henry Parishes, expressed heartfelt appreciation to his parishioners and community.

“There were many, many people who passionately contributed their time, talent, and financial resources to make this project happen,” said Father Wendler.

“Our goal was to restore St. Bernard as a visually and prayerfully rewarding opportunity for our Catholic community.”

Respecting the Past, Continuing to the Future

St. Bernard Church was formed by humble dreams of Irish immigrants in January 1843.

In May 1979, the largest renovation ever of the interior of the church began. The scope of project included removal of the baroque altars, removal of the Communion rail, moving the confessionals, adding rest rooms, adding a vesting room, installing new pews, adding carpeting, and painting the interior.

In September 2017, St. Bernard continued its dedication to repair and restore the buildings with a three-year capital campaign project dedicated to raise $1,300,000 for tuck pointing on all buildings, repair of the front porch of the parish offices, front patio, and retaining wall repair for the church, roof replacement on the school, exterior painting on all buildings, repair/sealing of the parking lots and sidewalks, as well as becoming compliant with the American Disability Act (ADA) in the different campus buildings.

“Our campaign theme is ‘Respecting the Past – Continuing to the Future,’” noted Father Wendler, “and that is why our Catholic community is aggressively supporting this capital campaign. St. Bernard has a proud history as a Catholic Church and as a member of the Watertown community. We want for our children’s children to share their Catholic faith for many generations to come.”

Watertown Catholic Community

St. Bernard is part of the Watertown Catholic Community, comprised of St. Bernard and St. Henry Catholic Parishes, and shares a combined school, the Watertown Catholic School. Masses are on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m.

More information about St. Bernard, as well as a pictorial progression of the restoration project, may be found at

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