Renovation at university parish complete

St. Thomas More
renovation. 11/4/09 Fr. Michael Dandurand explains some of the changes in the church. (Photos: Aaron

The chapel at St. Thomas More University Parish has a new look. The renovation took place over the
summer, but was recognized formally at a recent weekend Mass.
The chapel now has a rich and elegant look to enhance the worship experience.
On Oct. 24, Bishop Leonard Blair of the Catholic Diocese of Toledo, presided at the Mass to recognize the
renovations made at the parish. The pastor, Fr. Michael Dandurand, recently showed the Sentinel-Tribune
some of the new and enhanced features.
At each entrance to the church, new exterior doors welcome worshippers. Each of those doors incorporate a
glass image of the cross used as a symbol of the parish. At the two main entrances, a second set of
interior glass doors help provide a buffer for the outside elements and the interior of the chapel.
Once inside, the changes are obvious to those who had seen it prior to the renovations, however, for a
first-time attendee, only the new carpet smell provides any hint of change. The renovations were done
respecting many of the traditional features of the church.
Among the dominant changes are the sanctuary where a wall has been installed behind the new altar and
ambo, the podium where scripture is read. The new wall incorporates an arch which houses the new
tabernacle. The raised altar platform was lowered and enlarged.
The altar and the tabernacle are granite, as is the new baptistry, which is located at the east end of
the chapel. All three pieces came from the closed St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Toledo.
The ambo and chairs for the priest and deacon were made by parishioner Jim Maas and coordinate with a
service table he made previously.
Following the renovations, the choir area has been moved from adjacent to the altar to the far west of
the chapel. The area provides more room for the choir and instruments and eliminates the music stands
blocking the view of members of the congregation who used to sit behind the choir.

Another striking change was painting all the walls an ivory color, including the new wall behind the
altar. The lighter color brightens the worship space.
"With the walls being painted, it really brings out the beauty of the ceiling," Dandurand said.

The wood ceiling is a focal point of the parish from the time when it was built by primarily volunteers,
including many of the students of the day.
When people look at the ceiling they can see hand and footprints on the ceiling from a day when the
chapel was built and the prints were left after the students and other workers were moving the wood one
morning when the dew was on the wood. As it dried, the prints were left.
Dandurand noted the funeral Mass held last month at the church for Dr. David Gedeon, one of those
students. Gedeon continued to leave his fingerprints on the parish over the last 50 years, if not always
literally, as he volunteered and worked on various projects including the most recent renovation.
In addition to moving the choir area, other minor arrangement changes were made including four areas for
people who use wheelchairs.
The former eucharistic chapel has been returned to use for the priests to put on their vestments. The
opposite corner of the chapel was renovated to provide a more private area to hear confessions.
Face-to-face and anonymous options are available in the new confessional.
Downplaying the vast transformation of the space, Dandurand said, "It was really nothing more than
moving furniture."
He noted in some ways, it really completes the re-orientation of the worship space from an east-west
orientation to a central focus. Though reverting back to the east-west layout was considered at one
point, Dandurand indicated he is extremely pleased with what was done and the current look.
The entire renovation cost was budgeted at $62,000. Dandurand said the parish and the community came
through with $82,000 to fund the project. The additional money was used to replace the sound system.
Another donation was a set of Stations of the Cross which have been installed outdoors behind the south
wall of the church in an area called Hailey’s Garden, a memorial to a former young parishioner who
tragically died.
The Fireside Lounge in the parish Newman Center was renovated the previous summer, with the Antioch
dining room recently refurbished as well.