St. Rose rededicated after renovation

Archbishop blesses historic
sanctuary in Washington County

By MARNIE McALLISTER
Record Assistant Editor

SPRINGFIELD, Ky. — Parishioners of St. Rose Church here filled the church to capacity last Saturday to see the newly renovated sanctuary rededicated by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz.

The archbishop opened the celebratory Mass by congratulating the parish on “its wonderfully renovated sanctuary.”

“What a beautiful job you have done,” he said, noting that taking care of church buildings is one of the first responsibilities of a good Catholic.

The historic church has occupied a hilltop in Washington County since 1809 when it was established by Dominican Fathers, pioneers in the then-rugged wilderness of Kentucky.

The church today, with about 260 parish families, is home to some of the descendants of its first members. And the Dominican Fathers still care for their spiritual well-being.

Dominican Father Kevin McGrath, pastor of St. Rose, said during the Mass that he credits parishioners with the success of the renovation.

“This is a project of everyone in the parish,” he told parishioners gathered in the pews. “I was thankful to be here to witness the work that was done.”

During an interview last week, Father McGrath also noted that the project — at a cost of nearly $300,000 — was paid for by the parish through the Building a Future of Hope campaign.

The greatest expense came from replacing the 200-year-old  wooden subfloor, which had become so weak that it was deemed dangerous. That project prompted the renovation, which expanded to include new wiring, heating and cooling, lighting, hardwood floors, paint and other aesthetic improvements.

“For us, $250,000 to rebuild the floor of the sanctuary was a pretty big undertaking,” said Father McGrath. “The subfloor, (more than) 200 years old or so, had suffered a lot of damage from termites, water, dry rot.”

A marble inlay depicts the shield and motto of the Dominican Order with the words: Laudare (to praise), Benedicere (to bless) and Praedicare (to preach).

It was replaced and then covered with white oak hardwood floors with marble trim around the altar.

In addition to practical improvements, the renovation included changes to the area around the altar.

The crucifix, tabernacle and statuary behind the altar — a depiction of the Last Supper — were elevated to make them more visible. And a statue of St. Rose that had been in a corner cabinet at the rear of church was placed on a high pedestal — near the ceiling — on the altar’s right side.

Salvaged marble from the communion rail — which was dismantled decades ago — was used as inlay on the steps that lead to the tabernacle and to create a medallion on the hardwood floor between the pews and the altar. It depicts the shield and motto of the Dominican Order with the words: Laudare (to praise), Benedicere (to bless) and Praedicare (to preach).

“I think it looks beautiful,” said Father McGrath. “Overall, there’s a lot more light, and I think we’ve also given more prominence to the crucifix and tabernacle by elevating them.”

Parishioner Bobby Ray Hamilton, president of the parish council, said after the Mass that he hopes the new efficient heating and cooling system will help to cut energy costs at the parish.
“We’re really green in that way,” he noted.

Hamilton said raising the money for renovation wasn’t difficult because, “Just about every family in this parish has deep, four- or five-generation roots here.”

The historic church has occupied a hilltop in Washington County since 1809 when it was established by Dominican Fathers, pioneers in the then-rugged wilderness of Kentucky.

“When it comes right down to it, people would not want to see this parish fall apart,” he said. “It does cost a lot of money, but (in light of) the faith and knowing how the Dominicans have served the parish, the cost is secondary. We’d like to see this (church) here for generations to come.

“The people you see here are like a second family,” he added. “They are a spritiual family, and it’s something we definitely need.” Additional photos of St. Rose can be found here.

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