As members of the Sacred Heart Restoration Committee, we embark on the ongoing task of restoring and preserving our beautiful Church building. Having been given the gift of faith through the celebration of the sacraments, we seek to live our Catholic faith and bring our gifts and talents to the Church, so that our ancient Catholic faith may be preserved and our building may serve our needs, as we offer God fitting worship through the Sacred Liturgy.
We acknowledge that what we have we hold for a short time. We inherited something beautiful due to the sacrifices of our forefathers and hope to pass on something beautiful to those who come after us. We are committed to a timeless restoration, using materials and techniques that are consistent with the architecture of the Church and long lasting into the future. We see the Church building as a whole and realize that doing work in the interior can only be done in a structure that is also sound on the outside.
With the help of God we hope to restore and preserve its elements of beauty so that its timeless design and architecture may be known to us and future generations. We desire to restore our Church so that we will have a beautiful building that we will be proud to show our relatives and friends who come to town and continue to have a place where people will come from all over to pray and experience the beauty of God.
Calling upon the grace of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, whose flowing blood and water gives us life, and with the intercession of our Blessed Mother, who is our refuge and our strength, we humbly undertake this project with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, united as brothers and sisters, and children of our Father in heaven.
— Reprinted from “History of Jackson County” Volume 2, Pages 269-270
Roots of this parish go back to European immigants seeking a new life. Bishop Ireland colonies of Catholics were occurring in southwestern Minnesota in 1876 with scattered Catholic settlers in northwestern Jackson County. They received help from area Catholic churches and those further east. The first priest to visit Heron Lake was Rev. Herman Richard of Mankato, who served the area from 1874 to 1879 saying mass in private homes. Father Jung took over until 1884 conducting services both in private homes and in a country school.
In 1881 the pastor at Avoca arranged to build a church building in Heron Lake. Before it was paid for, a windstorm demolished it. A replacement was built a block east, but it was poor construction and did not last long. On November 4, 1884 work began on the third church building. Basic material was drawn from two carloads of lumber sent down by Bishop Ireland and direction was by the Rev. Anthony Ogulin, Heron Lake’s first resident priest. The building was on property now occupied by Sacred Heart School. It was dedicate Saints Cyril and Methodious Catholic Church. Numerous churches around the state contributed to paying for it. One donation of $1,100 came from the Missionary Society of Vienna, Austria. A rectory was added in 1889 and in 1896 the congregation purchased the old public school for $4,000 and opened a parochial school.
Rapid parish growth occurred the next few years; a second priest was assigned with the parish handling Catholic needs in the area including Windom, Brewster, Worthington, Lakefield, Dundee and Heron Lake. A chapel and home for the nuns were added. Curriculum at the school was broadened with music courses added. A new rectory was added in 1950 with a new parochial school in 1954, plus a new convent in 1966. The school closed in 1969 with the building used for religious education classes. The convent closed in 1969 due to a shortage of nuns and the building was sold.
By 1916 it was decided the old church building was inadequate and a decision was made to build a new one.
Church Building’s History
World War I delayed construction. Work began September 29, 1919 and continued two years. Cornerstone dedication was April 29, 1920; bell christening was January 12, 1921 with dedication on August 25, 1921. At the dedication the church’s name changed to Sacred Heart Catholic Church. However, tragedy struck July 21,1921 — the choir balcony collapsed. Workers Clem Huising and Anton Broeckling died. Otto Kopping and George Golda were injured.
Over the years the interior has undergone four renovations or restorations. First, in 1932, with the addition of the Baldicchino and additional artwork on the walls and ceiling. Next, in 1947 the church changed from coal furnaces to heating oil and redecoration covered the canvas painted saints that adorned the 16 pillars around the pews. In 1974 a major renovation added carpet throughout the entire building. Along with that, the interior plaster was repaired then painted; the murals and ceiling art were also cleaned and repainted for preservation. Minor repair and maintenance throughout the years included cleaning and protecting the stained glass, the addition of a passenger elevator, the efficiency of a natural gas heating system, annual exterior tuck pointing of face brick, and the seemingly annual roof repair.
Changes in agriculture and an aging rural population have altered the faces of Sacred Heart. We are not immune to progress. Yet, we consider ourselves dedicated to celebrating our Catholic faith and hope to complete this renovation prior to the church’s 100th anniversary in 2021. We evangelize and encourage others to join in that celebration. Equal to that is the dedication of this generation to maintain a Holy Place where all can marvel in the beauty of the building and offer prayers and sacrifice to God.
Your Catholic faith, as celebrated at Sacred Heart through the sacraments, has helped you grow. Remember marriage vows, the baptism of your child or grandchild, watching the child grow through the Sacraments of Reconciliation and First Communion and yes, the tears of sadness from death of a loved one moving to be with Jesus. Help us bestow these same blessings on today’s and future generations by caring for our beloved Sacred Heart Church. With faith we move forward on this restoration.
Sacred Heart Restoration Committee Process
In February 2012 the Pastoral Council passed a resolution to begin fundraising for the restoration and repair of the church interior. Nearly immediately we saw it as a restoration and not a renovation, as our objective was to return the interior to the intended condition.
The Council appointed a five member Sacred Heart Foundation whose sole purpose is to accept donations and at the appointed time release those funds for restoration projects. It consisted of three at-large members from three distinct generations; the resident Priest, representing himself and the Bishop; and the Parish Council President. The committee increased to eight persons by adding the spouses of the initial at-large appointees.
In November 2017 a request went out to the Parish seeking individuals willing to serve as Steering Committee or Subcommittee members. The committees drive organized discussion and decision making.
We also worked under a specific Mission Statement (found on Page 3) to guide the process. An abbreviated statement follows: “Restoring our Church building to the structure and function first intended with the resources available, creating a space where generations have and will continue to worship, reverently praise God and find peace and comfort in times of joy and sadness. Second, do this without taking on debt. Third, fully complete the project in one seamless process, and finally, become stronger as individuals and as a faith community when all is accomplished.”
Each member of the steering committee became a chairperson for a specific subcommittee. That subcommittee added one to seven others for the discussion of that topic. These committees sought out competitive quotes for their area. They learned what is available and what could be afforded for our project; they brought this information to the steering committee. The steering committee took the guidance seriously in the selection of vendors and contractors for this project. Early in the process we discovered the existing funds could not accomplish everything the committee wanted to accomplish. Priority areas were established. As additional donations or pledges are given, the committees will continue the additional work needed.
Sacred Area & Art
Plaster & Paint
Pew & Wood Refinish
The parish has been generous in their direct giving, donating on behalf of loved ones and in one case, an out-of-state benefactor donated $100,000 for specific Sacred Area & Art projects. The total donated thus far is $430,670. We do not place that above or minimize what was freely given by all. Many four and five figure donations were received, given with the confidence that it would be used wisely. There will be a continued effort to raise additional funds through direct giving and pledges.
A project of this size and scope is not possible without the faithful support by many volunteers. Each has dedicated time and talent to discuss possibilities of what we want the next 100 years to be, by attempting to understand the intention of our churches builders of four generations past. This is a long held, deep-rooted faith as many of the present Steering and Sub-Committee members have a direct lineage to members of the original building committee. That is a benefit of large established families.
From what was discussed in committee we realize what a privilege it is to have a large ornate place to worship. We discovered it is not unique; other large rural churches face the same concerns and advantages in the upper Midwest. We are grateful for what we have here and hope to live up to the example from four generations past.
Once the planning and financing phase is completed, more opportunity exists for hundreds of hours of additional labor by all members of the Parish.
Sacred Areas & Art
The Sacred Heart Catholic Church’s Sacred Area/Art subcommittee has prayerfully worked to prioritize the needs of our parish to fulfill the Mission Statement of the Restoration Committee. The focus of the committee is to restore and preserve the Sacred Area to the best of our ability to the original design, while maintaining an accessible worship space. The committee also worked to honor the request of a substantial donation made specifically to restore the Sacred Area. The restoration committee agreed to hire Henning Church and Historical Restorations as the main contractor for the restoration. As such, no other bids were considered for the Sacred Area in order to create a harmonious design throughout the church.
The committee agreed that the goals of the Sacred Area Restoration were, in order of priority:
- Plaster Repair: $25,000 - Henning will repair the sanctuary, dome, side altar and arch plaster damage, including creating molds and restoring the major deterioration.
- Marble Furnishings: $71,500 - The main altar, tabernacle, and the Saint Mary and Saint Joseph altar will be replaced with stone altars to match the original color.
- Stone Ambo: $15,000. The stone ambo will be restored. The committee discussed creating the ambo in a similar style and design of the original Ambo, but with a more modest pedestal to increase the accessibility and decrease the mobility challenges of reaching the ambo.
- Mural Work: $30,000 - The original 16 murals of the 12 apostles and four decorative columns will be restored throughout the church. Prior to the mural work, the repair and restoration of the plaster from the base of the stained glass windows to the floor must be repaired and prepared.
- Art within the Sanctuary: $5,000 - The art will be retouched and repaired inside the baldacchunino with 23k gold leaf added to brighten the existing work. In addition, new lighting will be installed to increase the visibility of the dome.
- Move the chandelier from above the choir loft: It will be placed in the original location above the altar. Cost is under electrical.
- Replace the current baptistry with a stone font that will match the new altar. $3,500
- Move Altar to Transcept: $3,500. The current altar will removed to the baptistry. The total estimate of the Sacred Area restoration is $153,500.
In the future the committee plans to explore the option of restoring the communion rail.
The committee considered options such as painting a faux marble on the columns, coloring the decorative plaster on the columns and adding wood insets to the ambo. However, in the spirit of Mission Statement to restore the existing space, we felt that such changes would be a redesign of the space that would be inconsistent with a restoration and the original vision of the founding members of our parish.
Plaster & Paint
The plaster and paint committee was tasked with fixing the cracks in our plaster walls. As you can see when you walk through our church, the heating of our building, coupled with the cold winter months, caused the plaster to crack by the heat registers; plus, the steam from the relief valves blistered the paint. The temperature difference around many windows caused cracks to form in the walls surrounding them. We received two bids from Miesen’s Color Center Company, Springfield, MN, and Henning Restoration. Both bids are for repairing the plaster cracks and then painting on the Nave walls from the Cornices down to the floor, including the back wall above and below the choir balcony, the face of the balcony and the wall behind the organ pipes as well. The gold leafing on the cornices will also be touched up. Plus, painting occurs on the two staircases, from the Sacristy to the basement, and from the balcony entrance to the basement as well. Both bids came in at $60,000. This includes all scaffolding needed to do the job. The Aauland Pipe Organ Company will cover the organ pipes to prevent them from being damaged; this prep time and materials are estimated at $2,100. The paint color has not yet been decided, as we will determine that when the pew and carpet colors are confirmed.
The carpet committee secured three quotes from: Carpet Plus, Leaches and Miesen Color Center. The low quote was from Leaches in Jackson for $23,435.60. To keep costs low parishioners will remove the old orange carpet. The new carpet will be carpet tile squares installed over the majority of the church. Certain areas, like the steps, will have the same design of broadloom carpet installed over those areas. The color of the carpet will be finalized after the pews’ stain is selected.
Marble Floor in Sanctuary
A hallmark is the stone floor in the Sanctuary. It is constructed of Travertine Marble or Travertine Limestone. The stone “tiles” are primarily greater than 1 inch thick, 12 inch by 12 inch square, with larger pieces creating borders and breaks to make it pleasing to the eye. Four areas are approximately 5-foot square that will need to be milled and tile added.
Three steps separate the congregation from the Sanctuary. The treads are in very good condition. The risers though need major repair or replacement. Three steps also rise to the Tabernacle. The treads and top landing are in very good condition; again, the risers need repair.
During the 1974-75 renovation carpet was installed over the entire floor. To keep it in place holes were drilled and wood dowel inserted to attach tack strips to the floor. Every hole needs to be cleaned and an epoxy and stone dust filler applied. The original steps were cut back to create three uniform length steps to the Sanctuary. These stones will be repaired or replaced. A few broken and loose tile and numerous fragments will be repaired.
During the previous renovation, a riser was added to the center of the floor with the altar placed on it. This will be removed and the stone repaired. The entire floor needs honing to a smooth finish eliminating visible joints and seams, plus a thorough deep cleaning and polished to a smooth shine.
Five companies provided written proposals for repair and finish. They are Grazzini Brothers & Company, Classic Marble Restoration, Twin Cities Tile & Marble Company, Syverson Stone & Tile, and SolidCare. We found all the companies capable and willing to do the work.
The committee selected Grazzini Brothers as they have done other churches, came highly recommended and were the low quote a $24,700.
Pew & Woodwork Refinishing
This committee determined our best options for restoring our pews and woodwork. Consulting with two contractors, it was determined that we have high quality pews that are worth restoring. New high quality pews would cost twice as much as restoring ours.
- Refinishing: All inside door casings and jams, window frames and trim, and stair handrails will be stripped, sanded, stained and finished. This work will be done in house.
- Pews: We received bids from two contractors. One contractor leaves the pews intact and restores the pews in house. The second contractor takes all pews completely apart. Each piece of each pew is numbered. Pews would be loaded on a trailer and restored in their shop. Any cracks would be fixed before they strip, sand, stain and a finish is applied. Restoration on the pews is estimated to take 2 to 3 months. When the pews are returned, they will be using special screws that will secure the pews for a long lasting fit. They will also mount the pews to the floor.
- Kneelers: It was determined that restoring our kneelers was not cost effective. Therefore, we have decided to purchase new kneelers.
- Stain Bookracks: It was also determined that restoring our bookracks was going to be too expensive. Local parishioners have designed new bookracks from our present kneelers. The high quality oak in our kneelers will be repurposed into new bookracks for our restored pews.
The Pew & Woodwork committee is recommending that we contract with Wood Renovators (total $84,620) on the quality of their work. We feel that taking them apart, fixing any cracks, and screwing them together will make our pews last for many generations to come.
The HVAC/Sound subcommittee’s will assist in restoration to the best of our ability to the original design. We also want to use modern technology in climate control and sound technology. We believe investing in a climate control system will protect the art and plaster of the church by stabilizing the temperature and humidity extremes. In addition, we feel that investing in modern speaker technology would enhance the worship experience. Goals:
- Countryside Plumbing and Heating bid: $35,350. The bid includes four Coleman air handlers, associated condensers, line sets and installation; no heat pumps are in the quoted units. The sanctuary dimensions were submitted to Coleman to confirm we had enough cooling. They estimated 15 tons, and the quoted units provided 20 tons.
- Requested quote from BTU; they are busy and did not reply.
- A bid was turned down by Ron Kaufman, a parishioner and self-employed HVAC technician. He is nearing retirement; the project was too big.
- A bid was received from Powers Heating and Cooling. He opted to quote it per single system installed. Four 5-ton units (20 tons) was the recommended quantity. His bid was $8,500 per system installed with a grand total of $34,000. This would entail four Trane units, including heat pumps, labor, line sets, condensers and tear down of old steam heaters.
- Brewster Plumbing and Heating met at the church to discuss our needs. We are waiting his bid.
Climate control is an important part to this restoration.
Mike at R&D Industries installed our current system. He was extremely knowledgeable and helpful. He looked up our current amplifier information and stated it was installed in 2012 and should be sufficient. Having the newer amp enables us to only buy speakers. He estimated that the speakers would be $15,000-$25,000. The variance in price is dictated by the size of the room and complexity of floor plan. When we decide we are committed to the project, he will then 3D model the sanctuary and get an exact replication of the speaker requirements.
The scope of the amount of electrical work to be accomplished is difficult to measure. What we do realize is wiring will be needed to power the air handlers (inside) and heat exchangers (outside) for the air conditioners. A construction power supply panel will be established in the main area of the Sanctuary for the work done there. The movement of the smaller chandelier and addition of the two hanging lamps over the choir will likely need updated wiring. Some existing wiring will need to be updated. For this reason the committee felt it appropriate to allow this work on a time and materials basis. We have chosen JNC Electric of Lakefield and Chad Frericks as the electrical contractor. It will be the electrician’s duty to assure all the wiring within the church is to current electrical code.
The budgeted value for this item is $10,000 and will be monitored should the scope becomes larger than the budgeted amount.
There has been discussion to improve the lighting of the Sacred Heart Altar, the Holy Family altars, illuminating the baldacchino and mural in the Sanctuary dome. Echo Electric Supply is providing an estimate for that lighting.This is an opportunity to add efficient lighting to our church. The use of Light Emitting Diode lighting (LED) technology will be used wherever possible. Consideration of the warmth or utility color of lighting areas will be made to achieve the balance needed to make it a comfortable place to worship. The move of the chandelier and addition of two hanging lamps have a budget value of $5,000.
This ranked as a low priority as a necessity, but higher priority as the scaffolding to reach these areas will be in place and available during plaster repair and painting.
This is an opportunity too good to to pass. The committees hope that funds are available for this area from the current donations or an individual makes a dedicated contribution to improve the lighting.
Sacred Heart Church Restoration Committee Members
Restoration Foundation Board*
David Freking, Chairman
Father Pratap, Resident Priest
Larry Liepold, Parish Council President
*Father Russ Scepaniak guided us with the creation of the Foundation’s fundraising campaign and its early years.
Restoration Steering Committee
Larry Liepold, Chairman
Sacred Areas & Art Subcommittee**
Mackenzie Erickson, Co-chair
Sara Bartosh, Co-chair
**Fr. Patrick Arens brought his talent and knowledge to this committee for the brief time he was our Priest.
HVAC & Sound, Electrical
Ryan Erickson, Chairman
Carpet & Floor Covering — Public Area
Burt Bonnell, Co-chair
Pat Bonnell, Co-chair
Pew & Wood Refinishing
Steve Hussong, Chairman
Plaster & Painting
Jason Freking, Chairman
Special Thanks to the following for their valuable input
Sacred Heart Catholic Church was added to the National Historic Registry in 1989.