MANKATO — St. John the Baptist Catholic Church celebrated a $2 million renovation Sunday with a visit from Bishop John M. Quinn.
The remodel extended the lobby out from the old building, creating a larger gathering space. The previously small entryway had made it difficult to move caskets through, the Rev. John Kunz said.
The redesigned lobby also opens the church up by removing a children’s room and moving the adoration chamber, a small worship room.
Kunz said the intent was to make you “feel like you’re invited in,” both to the worship space and the church itself. It was designed by parishioner Bryan Paulsen of Paulsen Architects.
From the sidewalk on Liberty Street, you can look through the wide front windows and see just about the whole worship space. A stained glass window, depicting the eye of God surrounded by hands, was moved from the church’s balcony to a more prominent spot at the entrance.
The renovation also added lights to what had been something of a dark church, Kunz said.
St. John the Baptist has always been a welcoming parish, longtime parishioner Miriam Braunhausen said.
“Now, the building welcomes you in.”
The Kasota stone used in the renovation was donated by the Coughlan family, and parishioners donated the entire cost of the renovation. During the nine months of construction, they worshipped in the basement.
The bishop was invited to dedicate the altar, a ceremony for which a bishop is required. The altar is the same as before, only shortened from 9 feet to 6 feet. Inside the altar is a time capsule dedicated to the Rev. Francis Kunz, who died Dec. 24 and was the uncle of John Kunz.
A granite baptismal font was also added and placed near the entrance of the worship space — just as baptism marks an entrance to the faith. Its size will allow babies or adults to be at least partially submerged in water.
St. John the Baptist is in its 51st year in its current building. The parish started in 1884 in a building currently occupied by Hickory Tech.
The church will hold its annual Summerfest celebration next weekend, on the grounds of a church and the park down the block on Broad Street. It will include music, food vendors, a movie, kids games, a silent auction, crafts and bake goods. Proceeds will benefit the needy.