Sacred Heart, Colwich, evangelizing with beauty

Fr. Eric Weldon says the renovation of the century-old Sacred Heart Church in Colwich helps the faithful raise their minds to God. (Advance photo)

Floor tile motifs honoring the Sacred Hearts of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were being placed last week at Sacred Heart Church in Colwich. Wood panels were being attached to columns, the floor was awaiting pews, and a stunning sanctuary with the restored altar and reredos was awaiting holy water and holy chrism from the hands of Bishop Carl A. Kemme.

One of those checking on the renovation progress last week was Father Eric Weldon, the pastor, who is becoming an expert at church renovations. It is his third renovation in as many assignments.

“This is all about celebrating the beauty of faith through the Sacred Heart, to lift up our worship at Mass, and to be a tool of evangelization through beauty,” he said.

Father Weldon, who was the pastor at St. Margaret Mary and St. Patrick parishes in Wichita when they renovated their churches, inherited the renovation committee from Father Andrew Heiman, who is now pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Wichita.

“It’s a complete transformation of the environment through paint,” he said. “It’s such a transformation, so uplifting, and so bright and different. Everyone is pretty excited.”

Father Weldon said the restoration is not to the church’s total historical integrity because the ceiling medallions will have new saints, and new murals have been painted on the walls of the sanctuary.

“The murals in the sanctuary are from the Gospels: the Wedding at Cana and the Breaking of the Bread at Emmaus,” he said, adding that two angels are high in the sanctuary, above the murals.

Wendy Lewis of Wichita, who painted the Chaplain Kapaun scene in Newman University’s St. John Chapel, has been commissioned to paint images of two saints to honor the German heritage of the parish: St. Peter Canisius and St. Boniface.

The rose window honoring St. Cecilia has new vertical windows on each side.

Details about the dedication and renovation

Bishop Carl A. Kemme will bless and dedicate the renovations at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20. A light reception will follow in Sacred Heart Hall.

Along with financial donations, many parishioners donated time and talent through their respective skills. The confessionals, sanctuary floor, ambo and communion rail, and the painting of the Stations and the Last Supper were all done by parishioners as a gift to the parish. The new free-standing altar was a gift by a Catholic carpenter in the diocese.

Parishioners who work at Star Lumber of Wichita helped facilitate the remodeling. Bill Wapelhorst, a grandson of one of the original builders of the church, made vital contributions to the project in knowledge and experience with material and construction. Secretary Julie Bardon was the project manager that made the renovation possible.

Companies involved were Evergreene Architectural Arts of New York City, Leroy Koehn of Koehn Paint Co. of Newton.

The present church was completed in 1918 after a fire destroyed the previous building on Pentecost Sunday in 1915. It has undergone several renovations over the decades.