St. Joseph Parish, Andale, eager to worship in ‘new’ church

The gold in the dome above the altar in St. Joseph Church’s renovated sanctuary represents heaven. Workers were hustling this week to finish the work before Monday’s blessing. (Advance photos)

The spiritual cross that resulted from a lightning strike last June will be lifted this Lent when parishioners of St. Joseph Parish in Andale rededicate their renovated church.
Last summer’s disaster has become a Lenten blessing. “It’s a 1912 structure with a 2019 infrastructure,” Pastor Fr. Daryl Befort said last week about the church.
St. Joseph Church will be rededicated at a 6 p.m. Mass Monday, March 18, after many months of inconvenience and many challenges for the pastor and the parish. Lightning struck the church before Sunday’s Masses last June 24. The fire – and the water used to extinguish it – caused over $4 million in damage to the 107-year-old building.
But, nine months later, the church is reborn. The rafters in the roof have been replaced as have the shingles. Inside, the plaster has been resurfaced and painted. New bathrooms and a new heating and air-conditioning system have been installed. The electrical system throughout the church is new as is the plumbing.
New LED lighting and a new sound system are in place. The floors are new and the pews have been refinished. The altars have been repaired and renovated along with the church’s statues and the Stations of the Cross. The west sacristy is now an adoration chapel, and the baptistry, which was located in the west transept, was enlarged.
Parishioners who’ve peeked into the church have noticed that the jungle of scaffolding that once filled the body of the Northwest Sedgwick County church has been removed to reveal a beautifully decorated and renovated interior.
Another chapter in the parish’s history book is nearly finished. Like many of the older churches in the Diocese of Wichita, St. Joseph Parish has survived several storms that necessitated repairs and renovations.
The parish’s first worship space, a small wooden church, was under construction in 1890 when it was damaged by a tornado. It was repaired and dedicated that year, however.

A floor medallion honoring St. Joseph is located in the center aisle.
Ready to fill the pews — The newly renovated St. Joseph Church in Andale will be blessed Monday, March 18, at Mass celebrated by Bishop Carl A. Kemme. Father Daryl Befort and his parishioners have been celebrating Mass in the parish hall after lightning struck the church Sunday, June 24.