Generosity, grace lead to church renovations

St. Martin expected to show new face by Easter

Carol Wagner Leader Correspondent

Photo by Carol Wagner Deacon Mike Grzeca hopes the renovations at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Cecil will be completed by Easter Sunday.

A series of generous donations and the faith of its parishioners have allowed a rural church to undergo some much-needed renovations.

St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Cecil is replacing its flooring, putting in new pews and giving its interior a face-lift, said Deacon Mike Grzeca. The work that began after Ash Wednesday is hoped to be completed by Easter Sunday.

Problems began many years ago with an ongoing water leak.

“We knew we needed to replace the ceiling window shaft,” Grzeca said. “We couldn’t make it stay fixed.”

Water damage had ruined the carpet, which was already threadbare. Replacing the carpeting would require taking up the pews, which got church officials and members considering the overall condition of the interior of the church about four years ago.

A fact-finding committee of parishioners began checking out options for renovations, while keeping budget in mind. The committee didn’t want to borrow money for the project, as they had just paid off an addition to the parish hall that was completed in 2010.

“This is a small, little country parish,” Grzeca said.

Talk of serious renovations began in earnest when, in early 2015, St. Martin of Tours received a generous donation from the estate of parishioner Irma Feavel, who passed away in 2013. She left either her house or 25 percent of her estate to the church.

“I had no idea,” Grzeca said about the decision, but chose taking the percentage rather than facing the task of trying to sell her house.

Grzeca said when the church received a total of $77,000 from Feavel’s estate, renovation plans were put in motion. The church held second collections and, thanks a major donation from a local foundation, they decided to proceed.

“That assured us we would be able to do it without any debt,” Grzeca said.

They opted to replace the pews and the flooring, and turn the troublesome window shaft into a skylight. The Diocese of Green Bay, which has to approve any changes in the worship facility, gave the green light to the project in August.

“They were impressed,” Grzeca said.

The day after Ash Wednesday, everything was moved into the parish hall to allow the pews and carpet to be removed. Some parishioners and Habitat for Humanity took the pews.

Sand-colored ceramic tile will be the new flooring, and the new covered pews will have kneelers. There will be special seating for those with disabilities, and two walls will be painted.

An additional donation from the foundation allowed for a hearing loop to be installed to help those parishioners who are hearing impaired.

A future construction phase is in the works to improve the front alcove, baptismal font and the Stations of the Cross, as well as bring the statue of St. Martin into the church.

“To me, this parish deserves this,” Grzeca said. “It has maintained its identity and hospitality. The interior is spiritual and stands as a symbol of this parish.”