Catholic congregation celebrates present of remodeled church...

Catholic congregation celebrates present of remodeled church

BY KAREN MADDEN • DAILY TRIBUNE STAFF • DECEMBER 25, 2010

The Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church congregation in Wisconsin Rapids got a special Christmas gift this year.

Parishioners have the chance to celebrate today's services in their remodeled church with a recently installed pastor, the Rev. James Altman. Members saw the redecorated building for the first time Sunday, when Bishop William P. Callahan of the Diocese of La Crosse installed Altman to the ministry position and blessed the church.

In October, Altman told parishioners they should think of the church renovations as a Christmas present -- no peeking in advance; it should be a present they could all open together. He also didn't want curious church members slowing down the workers as they rushed to get the job done in time for the holidays. Most of the members complied with the request and saw the work for the first time at the dedication ceremonies.

"So many walked into the church, opening the Christmas present for the first time with such awe and joy; it was awesome to see them," Altman said.

People packed the building for the service, said Philip Kosloski, pastoral associate. The church congregation consists of about 580 families and has an average attendance of 1,200 to 1,400 people each week. Church members who attended services in the school's gym since mid-October during the construction had nothing but positive things to say about the remodeling job.

"It's a big relief to be back," Kosloski said. "It's kind of like coming back home."

The end result took a lot of effort and preparation. Church council members spent hours working on remodeling decisions with Altman. Jim Dietsch, Ss. Peter and Paul building and grounds supervisor, went from being a part-time employee to working almost around the clock to make sure work crews had everything they needed, Altman said.

It's unusual for a church to be remodeled without a priest installed, said Altman, who was assigned to assist the Rev. Andrew Karoblis in 2008. However, the need to take care of some of the church's structural problems was urgent. Altman became the associate pastor of the church when Karoblis retired in 2009. Karoblis died Jan. 30.

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