St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Oak Creek gets renewal, blessing |

St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Oak Creek gets renewal, blessing

Chad McGown, a parishioner at the St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Oak Creek, talks about how a few improvements to the church grew into a complete renovation. The church will have a visit from Archbishop Charles Chaput to celebrate the renovation.
John F. Russell

— Today, on Pentecost, celebrated by many as the birth of the Christian Church, one church in Oak Creek will be blessed on a rebirth of its own.

The St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church will have a special visit from Archbishop Charles Chaput, of Denver, to celebrate nine months of work completely renovating the building on Sharp Avenue.

Almost every facet of the church was renovated in what started as a small project.

“We were going to just lighten up the sacristy,” said church finance committee chairman Tony Stitch, referring to an area in the front of the church near the altar.

By the time they were done, the floors, walls, ceiling, roof, windows and doors all were either replaced or remade. A new deck was built for after-church gatherings and to buttress the sides of the old church.

The church originally was constructed in 1940-41, and until the renovation, its interior still was finished in 1950s-era wood paneling. When they removed the paneling, they realized there was no insulation in the old walls — a fact Chad McGown said was very noticeable in the cold church.

So almost the entire old building was restored. Insulation was added, beetle-kill pine was installed in the ceiling, and a coat of paint was applied to the building’s exterior.

Workers also found a window above the altar that had been covered by paneling for many years, and Steamboat Springs resident Georgian Kalow made a new stained-glass design for the space.

In celebration of this “rebirth,” Father Ernest Bayer, of the Holy Name Catholic Church in Steamboat and St. Martin of Tours, invited Chaput to rededicate the church and offer prayers for the work. Chaput will arrive in Oak Creek today for what Bayer said is probably the first time. While in Routt County, the archbishop also was scheduled to offer sacrament to a confirmation class at Holy Name on Saturday.

The St. Martin of Tours renovation project was paid for with money the church has saved throughout many years, and no fundraiser was needed to complete the work. Even with the funds, however, it took many donations in equipment, materials and time, Stitch said. He estimates it has taken between 1,500 and 2,000 volunteer hours. There are about 50 families that belong to the church, Bayer said, and church leaders had been reluctant to spend the money in the funds before now.

“We’re going to be under $145,000 (for the project), and this is probably a half-million-dollar project, at least,” Stitch said. “So you can see how much effort was put into it. Sweat equity, I think, is what they call that.”

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