Blessed Sacrament renovation underway

Two men working high above the floor at Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Wichita install moulding in the church’s new coffered ceiling. (Advance photos)

Mass is not being celebrated in the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Wichita. Surfaces inside have been stripped or covered and a skeleton of scaffolding fills the interior.

The celebration of the Mass moved in early January to the school gymnasium as workers renovate the interior of the church for Glory & Praise, a $1.6 million improvement project designed to repair and update the parish’s 68-year-old organ and enhance the church’s interior. The Law Company is the contractor.

Project started with organ plans

Parish Life Coordinator C.Y. Suellentrop said last week that the project initially began with a need to repair the organ, which suffered from many age-related problems, including a console that was falling apart and wiring that was not up to code.

“We had a large number of our parishioners come forward and express concern regarding the ceiling, which had been a desire for years,” she said, “so we began our Glory & Praise initiative.”

When complete, the ceiling will be renovated, new lighting fixtures will be installed, and the body of the church and the sanctuary will get new carpet and tile. The project is expected to be finished by early June.

The church’s ceiling will be replaced with decorative coffered panels accentuated by new energy-efficient pendant lights.

The choir loft will be enhanced as part of the renovation, Suellentrop said. “The partial wall (at the front of the choir loft) will come down and new, metal railing that will match current church railing will replace it.”

Organ will beautify choir loft

The organ pipes, which had previously been hidden, will be exposed to enhance the beauty in the choir loft of the church, she added.

The organ renovation includes new wiring, pipe refurbishment, electronic controls to replace the old leather pouches beneath the pipes, a rebuild of the organ console with electronic pulls and new lighting, the addition of 15 ranks of pipes to the exiting 15, and a new facade enclosure for the pipes on the east and west sides of the loft. Acoustic materials will also be added to project sound from the loft forward.

Dennis Kerschen, president of the Law Company and a Blessed Sacrament parishioner, said last week he was excited to be a part of the project.

“I hope the project will bring about an esthetic change to the interior of the church that, as Father Drew said, will not only add more beauty to the interior of the church but enhance the worship there.”
Father Drew Heiman is pastor. Father Matt Siegman is parochial vicar.

Father Heiman said the improvements will impact the parish in several ways.

“I’m excited that we continue to live out two of our parish priorities of Cultivating the Spiritual Life and Enhancing the Sunday Mass Experience through the Glory & Praise initiative,” he said.

“This endeavor – through its beauty and music – will deepen our encounter with the Lord at Mass. My gratitude goes to all that have given sacrificially to this renovation project.”

The church was dedicated in 1952. The organ was donated by parishioner Tillie Rosenberger.