St. Patrick’s Renovations and Repair
Buildings all require maintenance and repair, and occasionally major overhauls. Damage brought on by weather and normal wear and tear requires attention, and advances in technology need to be implemented. For churches, there is an inherent dilemma, as funds are limited, and there are so many worthy causes that must be addressed. Maintenance and repair are often deferred. By the 1980s it was apparent that St. Patrick’s church and school facilities desperately needed to be taken care of, and often some difficult decisions needed to be made.
The rectory is a beautiful two-story house adjacent to the church. Since the 1920s it served as both residences for the parish priests as well as an office. The priests lived upstairs with the kitchen near the back of the ground floor. The front of the rectory served as offices for interviews with parishioners, secretarial work, and record keeping. After nearly 70 years of service, the building was badly in need of attention. The roof leaked, the wiring was dangerously outdated, the paint was chipping, the plumbing was often failing and not up to code, the flooring was deteriorating, and the mold was just about everywhere. It was so bad that the building had to be abandoned. In the early 2010s, the rectory was completely renovated and restored to its former use.
Electrical wiring done during the 1920s clearly needed to be replaced by the end of the century. Electrical fires are not uncommon in old buildings as wires become worn and the system becomes overly taxed with new additions and requirements. A major electrical upgrade was accomplished with the assistance of SDG&E. The entire parking lot had to be dug up, and all wires pulled and replaced.
California is well known to be in an earthquake zone and safety standards for withstanding them were established in the 1960s and 1970s, well after the construction of the church. The church, school, and all other buildings needed to be brought up to standard, as well as repair of erosive damage incurred through the years. The entire roof of the church didn’t have to be replaced, but the section over the sanctuary did. The rest of the church roof was reinforced and repaired. The school roof had to be replaced.
All buildings require painting from time to time, both inside and outside, and churches are no exception. Painting a church like St. Patrick’s is a difficult job owing to its size and structural confirmation. Highly skilled professionals and quality materials are needed. The outside of the church was painted by a professional group, the inside was by parish volunteers.
Basements are notorious for damage from the weather, mainly from water seepage. Dry rot, mold, concrete damage, and sometimes floor erosion can occur. St. Patrick’s church has a basement underneath the sacristy and sanctuary that is used mainly for storage, and by the 1990s it was apparent that several issues needed to be addressed, with a thorough clean-out and installation of a French drain. The job was recently completed.
All these needs, and others, required considerable sums of money, of course, and several fund-raising programs helped pay for some of it. Adopt-a Project, special fundraisers, and financial campaigns, bequeaths and endowments helped a great deal, but considerable debt remains to be paid. The Covid-19 pandemic put a stranglehold on church fundraising, and solutions are being very carefully examined by the parish finance committee.
As any home or business owner well knows, rather simple yet annoying repairs continually pop up. Sometimes these can be readily handled by do-it-yourself volunteers, but other times skilled workers are needed. With a church building, school, large hall and its kitchen, rectory, offices, and other facilities there is no shortage of these rather simple, but necessary jobs. St. Patrick’s has always been blessed by skilled, able-bodied parishioners who pitch in to help whenever and wherever they can. Their contributions have been invaluable. But unfortunately, as we all know, repairs can be very expensive. Materials, specialized workers, and major work can run up the bills very quickly, and it has been through the generosity and sacrifice of parishioners that some of the bills have been met. It is an ongoing battle, of course, but one worth fighting.