Sioux Falls Diocese Bishop Paul Swain wants to restore the beauty of St. Joseph Cathedral through a $15 million renovation project that could begin this year. Swain laid out preliminary plans for the project before members and nuns Monday night in the cathedral's church hall.
The renovation would do more than put paint on the walls, he said. It would create an atmosphere that would bring more people to the church and help spread the word of God. "We'll have some opportunities to invite others in," he said. "I'm not going to be satisfied if all we do is restore a beautiful place. ... I'm hopeful that we also enliven this place in a new way."
Swain said the project could take three years. He emphasized being respectful of what members have inherited and doing the project right. "We need to do it well so what we do will last for the next 90 years," he said.
He envisions restoring the side altars, repainting the walls and ceiling and refurbished pews, among other tasks. There also is electrical and air-conditioning work to be done, he said. Swain said the church will need to raise money for the project. He said the cathedral must do what it can afford and avoid heavy debt.
Church member Tony Bour asked whether the project would conflict with O'Gorman High School's building project by asking the Catholic community for more donations. Swain said some are willing to give to both causes. Historic preservation funds are not available for churches, he said.
Church member Ken Schulte of Renner asked whether the cathedral would be closed during the work. "In the '70s, I remember the church being closed for a while," he said. "The scaffolding was huge."
Swain said some dioceses have closed cathedrals for two years, but he isn't inclined to do so. The church might be closed briefly for safety, and scaffolding will be up for Mass at times.
Sister Donna Brown of Sioux Falls asked whether the sound system would be replaced. "If you can't hear the Word, then people miss the boat," she said. Swain agreed the sound system is a problem. He mentioned new technology that puts a speaker in every pew.
Bour said afterward that the maintenance tasks are needed. "There's a lot of major peeling going on - on the walls, around the windows and up the sides," he said. "It's been many, many, many years since it was painted."
His wife, Lorraine, pointed out water damage on the basement's south wall. "We do need some improvements made," she said. "This is such a gorgeous building. I would hate to see it in disrepair."Swain said renderings will be created in two to three months. Argus-Leader