St. Dennis facility renewal is ‘Centered on Christ’ Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 -- 12:00 AM
st dennis church
St. Dennis Parish in Madison recently finished its “Centered on Christ” project, which included a new tabernacle, altar, crucifix, and stained glass window (above). It was recently consecrated by Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison. To view or purchase photos, go to (Catholic Herald photos/Kevin Wondrash)

MADISON -- “It’s bigger and more important than ourselves”.

That has been the motto parishioners and supporters of St. Dennis Parish in Madison have been seeing over the past year as the parish kicked off and is completing its “Centered on Christ” facility renewal project.

The project’s mission had three parts:

1. Relocate the tabernacle from the chapel to the main worship space -- “The Dwelling Place of the Lord.”

2. Align the baptismal font, altar, tabernacle, and crucifix -- “The Path to Salvation.”

3. Add a permanent crucifix --“Centered on Christ.”

The project also sought to meet three objectives:

1. The worship space will be more visibly centered on Christ.

2. Our faith community will be more welcoming.

3. Our parish’s future will be solid and forward-thinking.

Starting the project

The ideas for the project began with Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison’s recent request that all churches in the Diocese of Madison place the tabernacle in the center of the church’s sanctuary by October of this year.

The tabernacle at St. Dennis has been located in a side chapel since the church was built in 1983.

The project grew when it was determined that in order for the altar to be centered, the sanctuary must be redesigned.

The other major portions of the project such as redesigning restrooms and doorways to comply with handicap access codes, new lighting, and parking lot improvements have been on the parish’s needs list for quite some time.

St. Dennis wanted to do as many of the improvements as they could at one time to have more efficiency in fundraising and building and grounds work.

Getting the work done

Parish committees were formed to help come up with plan ideas, determine the professionals to work on the project, determine the needs of the parish and school that could be met in the project, and the appropriate furnishings for the project.

For example, for the crucifix, working with a carver in Italy, the parish was able to customize details such as type of crown and hair length to the look on Christ’s face and the position of his hands.

Parishioners also took care to incorporate elements that had been part of the current church structure since it opened in 1983. The new stained glass at the center of the sanctuary -- be backlit with LED lighting -- takes on the look of the older windows that flank the sanctuary.

Groth Design Group of Cedarburg and NCI Roberts of Madison were hired for the project.

Parishioner Paul Stoffel took on the role of general contractor and worked with parishioner Jim Enright to see things through to completion.

Work on the project began this summer, with Masses being celebrated in the school gym while work was going on.

Support for the project

Parishioner pledges made up most of the fundraising efforts, along with a grant from the Apostolate for Persons with Disabilities-Diocese of Madison.

The sanctuary platform has improved access for people in wheelchairs, whether Mass readers, choir members, or other participants.

There is also a slide-out surface to better accommodate those in a wheelchairs, children, or shorter readers.

Fundraising support is still needed to complete the cost of the $2.2 million project, with funds raised currently around the $2 million mark.

For information on how to support the “Centered on Christ” project or the project itself, go to

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