Andale parish has weathered many storms

A bespackled Greg Dummitt coats one of the arches on the east ceiling of St. Joseph Church in Andale. Dummitt, the plastering supervisor, lives in Blanchard, Oklahoma. (Advance photo)

Renovation and repair work continues at St. Joseph Church in Andale
The interior of St. Joseph Church in Andale was nearly filled last week with a metal maze of scaffolding supporting a plywood floor just below the ceiling.
Several men were working over 20 feet above the church floor plastering the walls and arches with a synthetic coat and making repairs in preparation for a new paint treatment. The interior of St. Joseph’s has been stripped in preparation for what will likely be the most extensive renovation of the northwest Sedgwick County church since it was dedicated in 1913.
The renovation had been planned for many months but was adjusted after a lightning strike started a fire in the roof of the church resulting in about $1 million in fire, smoke, and water damage.
St. Joe’s pastor, Father Daryl Befort, said last week that the parish had been working on a new interior paint scheme before the fire. “We’ve had a design team that is close to what we we’re looking for the whole paint scheme. I am working with our design committee and with our painter to finalized it so we can present it to the parishioners.”
The parish had a peek of the initial rendering of the paint plan at a picnic held just before the fire, he said.
The blue tarps that covered holes in the church’s roof after the fire have been replaced with an underlayment, which will soon be topped with composite roofing shingles. The entire church will be rewired and outfitted for new bathrooms, and a new heating and air-conditioning system.
Father Befort said the west sacristy will be transformed into an adoration chapel, and the baptistry, which was located in the west transept, will not be moved but will be enlarged.
He added that the renovation is scheduled to be complete by mid-March, making this year’s Easter Sunday, April 21, even more special.
Like many of the older churches in the Diocese of Wichita, St. Joseph Parish has survived several storms that necessitated repairs and renovations to parish structures.
A small wooden church was under construction in 1890 when it was damaged by a tornado. It was repaired and dedicated that year, however.
The present church was only slightly damaged in 1917 by another tornado that killed 13 people and destroyed 30 houses and 28 businesses. And in 1981 the steeple withstood tornadic winds but was damaged.

St. Joe, Andale, full of scaffolding — The beautiful stained glass windows are covered for their protection as renovation and repair work continues at St. Joseph Church in Andale, leaving a dimly lit interior filled by scaffolding. (Advance photo)