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Ss. Cyril and Methodius Church gets finishing touches on eve of parish's 130th anniversary

LEMONT – Every house needs a little sprucing up once in a while.

A house of worship is no different, says the Rev. Larry Lisowski, pastor of Ss. Cyril and Methodious Parish in Lemont.

The 129-year-old parish is putting its finishing touches on a capital campaign launched in 2011 to pay for interior renovations to the church building, which is more than 80 years old.

The project, titled “Our Faith, Our Gift, Our Home”, included a wishlist of renovations and set a goal to raise $1 million through parishioner donations by this year.

Since launching, the church has raised approximately $840,000 and finished a majority of its wishlist – including re-painting the decorations and adding washrooms.

But the capital campaign has been extended an additional year to raise the rest of the money in order to replace the carpet and renovate the pews inside the church.

It has been more than 20 years since the pews have been refinished and the carpet was replaced, and Lisowski said the wear and tear shows.

“The rug is shot. There’s nothing to the rug that’s left,” he said. “If you take a close look at (the pews), they are scratched and worn.”

Tami Ziebell, a member of the renovation committee, agrees that replacements are needed.

“There’s a lot of band-aids put on those pews keeping them together,” she said.

Lisowski said the church had hoped to start these renovations this summer but had to delay its plans because the finances were short.

“We didn’t want to take out a loan and put the parish in debt,” he added.

Debt is something Lisowski is committed to avoiding. If the campaign does not raise enough money by the deadline of May 2014, the project will not be done.

“I don’t want people to say, ‘Why are you spending money you don’t have?’”

Though the capital campaign has reached more than 80 percent of its goal, less than 40 percent of the parishioners have made donations to the campaign, according to Lisowski.

By comparison, the church’s last capital campaign in 2002 raised $2.3 million for exterior renovations, he said.

Lisowski pointed to the downturn economy as the primary reason donations have fell short.

The church has one more item on its original wishlist – a permanent baptismal font – but has tabled plans for it until its current renovations are funded.

As for the completed renovations, Lisowski has seen a positive response from parishioners and visitors alike.

“They really see the improvements that were made,” he said. “I think they’re proud of it.”

The renovations had to be approved by the Office of Divine Worship to make sure they are up to code and are liturgically correct.

Ziebell thinks the designers did a good job recreating the period of time the church was built.

“I think it’s absolutely beautiful,” she said. “It couldn’t have come out any better.”

Working in the interior design industry, Ziebell can appreciate all the nuances that went into the designs. In particular, she enjoys the statues of Sacred Heart and Mary, which had metallic stenciling added behind them to help them stand out.

“It almost looks like they are more spiritual, for a lack of better terms,” she said.

Lisowski sees all the renovations as a commitment to the future. Maintaining the church will make sure it is a place future generations can use, he said.

“I think it’s a nice place to come worship and pray.”

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