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Arlington’s St. Patrick’s undergoing renovations

Caption
(BCR photo/Goldie Currie)
Bob Schmidt, lifelong resident of Arlington and trustee of St. Patrick's, stands nears the establishment marker located on the front of the church. The current church building was built in 1920 after the previous building burnt to the ground in 1902.

ARLINGTON – For the past year, St. Patrick Catholic Parish in Arlington has been undergoing major renovations in an attempt to compliment it’s original Gothic-style design from when the building was built around 1921.

Parishioner Lynne Bonnell explained in the 1970s, the church was “modernized,” and it’s original back altar, altar rail and statues were removed, thereby destroying its original beauty.

The Rev. Patrick Fixsen became the church’s administrator in 2011 and has made it a goal to get the church back to its original state.

Bob Schmidt, who is a lifelong resident of Arlington and trustee of the church, said it’s important for the community because the original state has a lot of meaning to people who grew up with the church and have personal memories of what it was like long ago.

“It’s just the nostalgia, and people grew up here,” he said.

He explained many parishioners grew frustrated throughout the years when priests would come to the church and make their own changes without getting input from the community. He said many felt the priests were overstepping their boundaries.

“They weren’t here for a long time, when the people had to stay and live with the changes,” he explained.

To date, another back altar has been installed; the front altar and pulpit have been replaced; the cross above the altar is new; and a statue of the holy family was restored after being stored in the basement for about 30 years. The church is currently working to change the light fixtures above the front altar and working on getting the bell tower running like it used to.

Ruth Mary Pommier of Arlington said in the ‘60s the stability of the tower was questioned. Also, the vibration from the bells was a concern, so the bells were silenced. Back then, the bells were manually rung at 6 a.m., noon and 6 p.m. to mark the Angelus and before masses.

Just recently the bells have begun ringing again, and the current panels covering the louvers in the bell tower are expected to be removed once repairs to the bell tower are completed.

Throughout its years, some of its greatest features have remained unchanged, like the sanctuary and sacristy windows, which were made in Dublin and were displayed at Marshall Field and Co. in Chicago before being placed in the church. Also, the windows in the nave were made in Austria and were displayed at the World’s Fair in New York before they were placed within the church in the early ‘20s.

The church plans to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2014.

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