WELLINGTON -- For the first time since it was built 52 years ago Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Wellington is getting a complete interior facelift.
The wood beams that had never before seen paint are turning Lambert Blue with gold accent; the wood panel walls are turning to a light shade of blue, called Winter Solstice.
The interior redecorating job started on March 17.
Parish priest, Fr. Albin Arsenault can hardly wait for the project to be completed in three to four weeks, and for a Mass of Thanksgiving to be held. The crew from Atlantic Cathedral Painters Ltd. from Antigonish, NS, will be in attendance for the celebration.
“This is really the thing to do,” said Fr. Arsenault. “We don’t take anything for granted. These people, they have a passion, they know what they’re doing, and the community has to express and acknowledge their hard work, and it is our way to thank them.”
Fr. Arsenault is very familiar with their work as they were the contractor for three other church painting projects he’s been involved in since 1997.
For Bill Gottschall, the owner of the painting company, the Thanksgiving Masses are unique. “This is my 70th church I’ve done in my career so far. I’ve had three parties after the project. All three of them have been in Prince County, Prince Edward Island. That tells you something, in my opinion, about the people of Prince County; they go out of their way and they put on some kind of a spread for us,” he said, describing the gathering as humbling experiences.
In any church painting project he’s been involved in, Gottschall said he always looks forward to Monday mornings following the Sunday masses. His crew takes down and remove all the staging and equipment at the end of their 11-hour work day on Thursday every week, wipe down the pews and give the church a cleaning. They drive home on the Friday and return to the church on Monday and set up again. They do the same for special weekday event, such as funerals or special Masses.
“I’m very interested in Monday mornings,” Gottschall confessed. “If anybody comes around, I run right over to have a chat with them to see what they have to say.”
He tells of painting the cathedral in Yarmouth 20-some years ago. Every day at 2 p.m. a man in his 90s would arrive to say his rosary, always sitting at the same place. Once done, he’d go around and shake hands with every member of the painting crew. When it came time to paint the area over which the man would be sitting, Gottschall directed the crew to leave that area until after the man had come and gone. The man noticed right away how they had worked around him and told them he could have sat somewhere else. Two days later he presented each of the painters with a homemade rosary. Gottschall still has his.
The church’s finance committee decided in February to go ahead with the project and contractors were interviewed about paint schemes and costs on March 8. Work started nine days later.
Benefit hockey game
Fundraising to help cover the cost of the project is underway. A successful turkey supper has already been held and this Sunday, April 6, at 7 p.m., a benefit hockey game in support of the project will be held in Abram-Village. Parishioners can also sign up to buy paint for the work.
Fr. Arsenault said initial reaction to the work has been great.
The balcony section is completed. There’s special detailing on the front of the balcony, including a reproduction of a painting from the Church of Notre Dame in Quebec City. The balcony’s dark blue front is accented with gold veining, and “Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception” and “Pray for Us” are stencilled in gold lettering. Little gold stars are incorporated into the paint.
The painters are now working in the church’s assembly area, painting the ceiling white, the beams and the lower walls lambert blue and the upper section of the sidewalls winter solstice. The same colour scheme will be used at the front of the church behind the altar but with more white. Accents throughout are in gold.
“There’s excitement. It brings revival,” Fr. Arsenault said of the paint job. He’s expecting the same type of reaction that was generated after the painting jobs were completed at the churches in Tignish, Miscouche and Grand River.
“They just couldn’t believe it. People just spontaneously responded positively,” Fr. Arsenault said. “It gives pride to a community.”