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St. Vincent de Paul: Change is Good

September 8, 2014

By Paige Desorbo

Parishioners return next month to a new worship space at St. Vincent de Paul Church after a four month renovation project. The church invested some $500,000 in a redesign that has the altar centered, and surrounded by seating on all sides.

St. Vincent de Paul organized a capital campaign, which raised $550,000 for the renovations.

In an era when some churches are closing, St. Vincent’s  has added seating. Some 466 seats will be installed compared to the 430 before the renovation. That addition alone will bring relief for the 450 people who generally attend the 11 a.m. mass on Sundays.

Betsy Rowe-Manning Parish Life Director consults with a contractor.

Betsy Rowe-Manning Parish Life Director consults with a contractor.

The new ‘in the round’ seating arrangement also includes a specially-designated area for the choir, which can hold up to 66 people on any given Sunday.

“I think everyone will be more engaged and create community,” said Albert Turo a parishioner at St. Vincent’s for more than 35 years.

Most parishioners supported the changes, although a few objected. One supporter of the project is parishioner Agnes Leahy, who has been attending St. Vincent’s for 11 years.

“I’ve been in a lot of churches over the years, and while I’m very happy at St. Vincent’s, it seemed to me that the space needed some sprucing up and updating,” said Leahy , a member of the choir.

Marie Bernadett has been the music director for 20 years.  With the renovation the choir will be more visible to the congregation.

“The whole assembly, including the music ministry, will be gathered around the table of the Lord – and as such I expect the singing to be even better than it is now, as the assembly will hear themselves much better,” said Bernadett.

Rev. Richard Vosko has been serving St. Vincent de Paul Church off and on since 1973. For the past eight years he has been there every Sunday.  Vosko is also a design consultant for worship environments.

“I would like to think, given the expertise I have in the field, that I contributed substantially to the shaping of this church space along with the members of the committee. We tried to educate and engage the congregation all through the process. There was a high level of approval of the plans when they were shared with the congregation,” said Vosko.

The construction company responsible for the renovation is Wainschaf Associates Inc. of Rensselaer which has renovated  five other churches locally including Christ Church in Albany, St. John’s, and Sacred Heart Church. So far they have pulled out the concrete, framed the bathroom and expect to be finished by early October.

“We are running on time and have not run into any problems,” said said Shawn O’Brien, a carpenter on the project who works daily with a crew of about 10 men.

While the building is under construction St. Vincent de Paul is currently holding three masses on Sundays in a separate room to accommodate the renovation  in the front of the church.

“We are very excited for the changes,” said Rowe-Manning. -30

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