ST. JOSEPH -- The oldest consecrated Catholic church in Minnesota is getting a much-needed renovation.

The Church of St. Joseph Facility Manager Andy Loso says the interior of the church was last updated in 1971. He says what started as some minor painting work grew into a full-scale renovation.

We're going to remove the entire floor and put in in-floor heat and a new concrete floor with a slight taper to it so people can see from the back. Then the sanctuary itself will be coming down three steps, the altar will be moved up front and we will add a handicap accessible ramp to the alter.

Loso says they also plan to add some new lighting, upgrade some technology and put in a sprinkler system. He says the project is expected to take about six months to complete.

January 7th is our kick-off date for construction and we have a wedding on June 15th so we will need to keep moving.

During the renovation, Masses will be held in Heritage Hall, which was built about five years ago.

The funding came through the church's capital campaign, which raised about $1.6-million. Loso says it's amazing to see the community come together to invest in the future and preserve history.

The money raised obviously shows the parishioners are supportive of the project.

The church was built in 1871 when early settlers brought stones from their fields for the construction. Loso says history will repeat itself as parishioners plan to do some of the construction by removing the pews and carpeting.

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