Our Lady of Perpetual Help has seen a complete remodel thanks to the help and dedication of its parishioners.
The church began as 3,700 square feet. The addition has added another 9,100 for a total of 12, 800 square feet, according to building chair LaQuita Ingle.
Since the groundbreaking in October 2008, church members have spent around 20,000 hours laboring on the addition. Even more amazing is that the average age of the parishioner working on the remodel fell between 65 and 75.
“We had three people in their 50’s and the rest were between 65 and 83-years-old,” Ingle said.
The church, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2004, has grown tremendously, not only in members, but also in size.
Ingle said she has seen families double since she came to the area in 1957.
“We had around 50 families then and now we probably have 100 families coming to church,” Ingle said.
The growing congregation was the main reason for the needed space.
The church is now set up for seating 400 people. But the back area can easily be used as a multipurpose space, according to Ingle.
“We have round tables to set up so meals and wedding receptions can be hosted here,” Ingle said.
While proud of the addition and dedication of the church members, Father Joe Campbell said he is having a hard time adjusting to the larger space.
“I never had to use a microphone before and now I do; I just can’t seem to get the knack of it,” Campbell said.
“Everything is new and high-tech and I’m a low-tech person,” Campbell said.
Technology aside Campbell said he is delighted with the additional space.
“We used to have to hold a Saturday night mass just to make room for everybody, so it’s great to know that we have more room for the congregation to grow,” Campbell said.
Various members donated the stained glass throughout the church.
“People have been great; they’ve prayed for us and helped us, it’s been wonderful,” Ingle said.
“Yes, people have really owned it and stepped up to help,” agreed Campbell. The dedication for the new addition will be held on Sept. 6 at 11a.m., with the Bishop from the Knoxville Diocese in attendance for the special dedication service.
Anyone wishing to attend is welcome to do so. For more information contact the church at 562-0312. Our Lady of Perpetual Help is located at 1142 East Elm Street, LaFollette.