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‘This is even more beautiful’ :St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church reopens its doors to the public after major renovation

(Update: Adding video, comments from parishioners, Father Jose Thomas Mudakodiyi )

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) --  After a year and more than $1 million in renovations, a more than century-old church in downtown Bend has reopened its doors to a brighter, upgraded setting to gather and worship.

The Historic St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in downtown Bend reopened on Sunday, with visitors seeing the results of a major renovation project for the first time. 

"The old Historic Church was beautiful, but this is even more beautiful," Bend resident Tina Kjesbo said Tuesday. "So I'm excited for Mass today, my first daily Mass here since the renovation, and I'm very thankful."

Another Bend resident, Margee Meyers, said, "My father and brother, who are both passed, were named Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi. So he's been a saint that I've always looked towards, and I've always felt at home."

The work began after the church closed on July 4th last year, with the project divided into two phases.

Father Jose Thomas Mudakodiyi said, "When we were ready to start the work, because of the inflation, the pandemic, the supply shortage and so on,the financing estimates went up to $2.3 million."

Phase 1 was originally estimated at $1.5 million but increased significantly. It includes new flooring in the sanctuary, a new altar and new baptismal font. 

 All of the stained glass windows were shipped to Chicago's Rigali Studios, which designed and built the original church interior more than a century ago.

The glass was separated and re-leaded to hopefully shine brightly for another century. The start of the second phase renovations is months away and expected to cost $1.3 million. That work will include re-finishing pews, flooring, lighting, walls and ceilings. 

Mudakodiyi said, "We are proud as a Catholic community to have this church and have it renovated. And I strongly feel that it is not just a gift to the Catholic community, but it is a gift to the Bend community."

The church is expected to start Phase 2 of upgrades right after Christmas, with plans for reopening just before Easter.

Article Topic Follows: Religion

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Kelsey McGee

Kelsey McGee is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Kelsey here.


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