- 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 a many challenges for the pastor and the parish. Lighting 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.
The present brick church was slightly damaged in 1917 by a tornado that killed 13 people and destroyed 30 houses and 28 businesses. And in 1981 the steeple withstood tornadic winds but was damaged.
Bishop Carl A. Kemme is scheduled to be the main celebrant at the rededication Mass March 18.