Marriages, funerals and most other religious rites were transferred to St. James Catholic Church.
On Saturday, Nov. 19, renovations on the 110-year-old church will be officially completed and the church will be rededicated at 5:30 p.m. A reception will follow in Our Lady of Refuge Auditorium.
“The parishioners are anxious to see the results of the restoration work,” said Father Phillip Panackel.
“The entire outside of the church was painted and a new composition shingle roof replaced the existing roof,” said Barry Beuershausen, member of the renovation steering committee.
The ornate pressed metal has been painted, the pews refinished and new leather replaces the worn leather on the kneelers.
“It was discovered that the pressed metal wall covering was not only made of tin, but aluminum as well,” Beuershausen said.
Insulation was added to the attic and new aluminum custom lattice is added to the outside crawl space to allow ventilation and keep animals from getting under the church.
After the old carpet was removed, the tombstone of Sister M. Cecelia Flagherty was revealed. Born in 1853, she came to Our Lady of Refuge parish from Ireland and died in 1876, a year after her arrival in Refugio.
The new carpet does not cover the tombstone and a short pew on the north side near the rear of the church has been removed to make Flagherty’s resting place visible.
Most of the church is original, including the baptismal font.
“The screens on the outside windows have been removed and a clear protective Lexan material now covers the windows,” Beuershausen said. “This allows the beauty of the stained glass windows to be seen from the outside.”
The confessional was rebuilt where the original confessional of the 1901 church was located.
“The parish of Our Lady of Refuge has a unique and fabulous history,” Beuershausen said. “The present location of Our Lady of Refuge stands on the site of the original mission.”
Built in 1795, Mission Nuestra Senora del Refugio was the last of the Texas missions established by the Spanish government.
From the newly refinished front entrance to the copper gutters and down-spouts, the upgrades enhance the timeless beauty of the century-old church which is the cornerstone of the town’s history.
The steering committee for the renovation consists of Brad Gillespie, chair, Betty Bauer, Mark Borglund, Morgan O’Brien, Dudley Campbell, Russell Sternadel and Beuershausen.