Delnor Construction Project Superintendent Don Ferguson and St. Jean Baptiste Parish Finance Committee member Simonne Chevalier look at the refurbished icon of Jesus, located approximately 40 feet above ground on the church’s front face.
by Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – The scaffolding that has been the platform for a $500,000 restoration project for St. Jean Baptiste Church will come down this week, giving residents and parishioners their first real look at the work that has been underway since the beginning of May.
The St. Jean Baptiste Parish received a $250,000 Western Diversification Grant Mar. 12, the maximum matching dollars available for the $343,538.97 raised in the community last fall during the People for the Steeple Campaign.
The approximately 30,000 pounds of scaffolding has allowed Don Ferguson, Delnor Construction Project Superintendent, to get restoration specialists to the levels needed to restore the century-plus church to its former glory.
Wind and age had allowed the steeple to shift over the years, allowing moisture to seep into the steeple and surrounding roof. The St. Jean Baptiste Parish spent about $120,000 a couple years prior to the recent work. That money was used to stabilizing the steeple to prevent further damage.
Ferguson said a lot of the brick around the building had to be repointed, but because of the church’s historical standing with the province, extreme care had to be taken. Bricks had to be numbered and put back in exactly the same place they were before.
In addition to important structure and brick work, the church’s roof has been replaced and its ornate tin steeple and crosses have been completely repainted, bullet holes from those trying to eliminate pigeons over the years have been filled and repaired.
One of the highlights of the restoration has been restoring the golden icon of Jesus that sits midway up the face of the church, above the entrance. Ferguson and his team repainted the icon and placed the statue in the lighted alcove behind Plexiglas to protect the likeness of Christ from the elements.