For your Brick By Brick file from the Mercury News, with my emphases and comments.
Developer renovates Pittsburg [California] Catholic church
By Rick Radin
PITTSBURG — A 41-year-old Catholic church that was showing its age has a new look thanks to its most prominent parishioner.
Albert Seeno III, an executive with the construction company named after his grandfather, renovated the interior and exterior of the Good Shepherd Catholic Church, helping the Rev. Helmut Richter complete a long-term goal of converting the church from the way it was originally built — with the altar in the middle of the sanctuary — to having the altar against the wall. [Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!]
“The church was built with the pews encircling the altar,” [blech] Richter said. “After I came here in 1997, I moved the altar, but people were still looking at each other, which is not liturgically correct.”
For the first time, there is an aisle leading to the altar, so the church is better equipped to host weddings and funerals.
Besides the refurbished and realigned pews, there are new doors, tile, carpeting, paint and energy-efficient lighting, as well as a handicapped ramp behind the altar.
“Everything that is visible is new,” Richter said.
The church exterior was painted and a protective surface placed over the stained glass. Much of the landscaping has been replaced with drought-resistant plants that will help the parish lower its water bills.
“The outside had nothing done to it since the church opened in 1970, not even any paint,” Richter said.
Richter has commissioned a new wooden crucifix from his native Germany that will be mounted behind the altar once it arrives.
The marble top of the altar was retained, but Seeno had a new wooden base built and installed.
Richter tried for several years to raise money for the renovation, but the campaign lapsed after the recession began in 2008. He said he received word from the Seenos in fall 2009 that they would take care of the whole project.
Seeno had crews working on the exterior of the building late that year and began the interior work about two months ago.
“Once we got the basic concept down, Albert just did it,” Richter said. “I’ve never gone and asked him ‘Can you do this, or can you do that?’ ”
Richter celebrated the first Masses in the new church last weekend.
“It’s not the same church,” he said. “People were speechless.”
The renovation was not the first project Seeno has undertaken for the parish. Shortly after the church hosted the funeral of family patriarch Albert Seeno Sr. in 2001, Albert Seeno III refurbished a park, with a baptismal pond, on church property used by both the parish and the surrounding community.
“We’re devoted Catholics, and I have been attending the church since I was a little boy,” Albert Seeno III said. “My youngest son is going to be baptized there this weekend.”
Remember… changes to churches, nay rather, the upkeep of churches is not free. If you want a parish, pay for a parish. If you want some changes, pay for the changes.