Repairs at St. Therese give parish new life, says priest

St. Therese Church at Schiller Avenue and Kentucky Street has been renovated inside and out with the help of parishioners and friends of the parish. Renovations included the repair of plaster, the replacement of old flooring, restoration of the original statuary and the addition of a painting from the Archdiocese of Louisville archives. (Photo Special to The Record)

St. Therese Church at Schiller Avenue and Kentucky Street has been renovated inside and out with the help of parishioners and friends of the parish. Renovations included the repair of plaster, the replacement of old flooring, restoration of the original statuary and the addition of a painting from the Archdiocese of Louisville archives. (Photo Special to The Record)

By Marnie McAllister, Record Assistant Editor

St. Therese Church at Schiller Avenue and Kentucky Street is in the midst of a minor renaissance, thanks to recent renovations of the 107-year-old church, according to its administrator, Father David Harris.

“If it’s been a few years since you’ve seen the inside of St. Therese you’re in for a big surprise,” said Father Harris. “It’s absolutely beautiful.

People come in and are awe struck. They just can’t believe the transformation.”

The renovations began about four years ago with repairs to the church’s striking Spanish tile roof, which had been leaking. Then repairs turned to the interior, where plaster was repaired and fresh paint was applied.

The latest phase, which was just completed, put the final touches on the interior. Forty-year-old carpet was removed and replaced with wood floors and new carpet. An area of terrazzo flooring with the image of a fleur-de-lis was uncovered and restored, as well.

Father Harris explained that some elements of the historic church — removed after the Second Vatican Council — have been restored, too. For example, the church’s original statuary, which had been in storage, was returned to the sanctuary.

A painting from the archives of the Archdiocese of Louisville, depicting the crucifixion also was added to the sanctuary, as were new chairs for the choir and a new speaker system.

“People, when they come in, just can’t believe the transformation. The paint, the plaster, the flooring and the difference it makes is amazing.

The energy it produces in the people, it’s new life,” the pastor said.

“I’ve had people come in there and cry,” he said. “It just sort of takes your breath away.”

The first phases of the renovation were funded by the parish’s Building a Future of Hope campaign. Parishioners and friends of the parish donated $80,000 to help complete the most recent portion of the renovation, Father Harris said.

“It was totally a pay-as-you-go thing,” he noted. “The people raised the money — not only parishioners, but friends of (St.) Therese. A lot of people come back because of the history and want to see it restored.”

Parishioners and friends of the parish celebrated the project’s end during a Saturday afternoon Mass Nov. 23. The ceremony included a baptism, which Father Harris said was appropriate because, “we’re celebrating new life and renewal.”

St. Therese has about 300 registered families. Masses are celebrated on Saturdays at 4 p.m. and on Thursdays at 8 a.m. Currently, there is no Sunday liturgy.

“We’re hoping, as we grow, we want to add another Mass. That’s one of our dreams right now, to have a Sunday Mass,” Father Harris said.

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