Parish Renovations Three Years in the Making
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
November 26, 2020
ROCKFORD—About three years ago, parishioners and Father Phillip Kaim began strategic planning work to meet four identified needs: school, church, parking lots and a larger and more welcoming fellowship hall. 
A “silent phase” of potential large donations was followed by requests for pledges from the larger body of parishioners. Quotations, architectural drawings and approvals led to a contractor being chosen.
The first phase focused on Holy Family School. That included replacing the building’s original boiler, new windows for energy efficiency, refurbished restrooms and a new roof for the gymnasium along with energy efficient LED lighting and rebuilt retaining walls on both sets of outdoor stairways that lead to the basement.
Extensive parking lot work and drainage was mostly completed early on.
A team visited parishes in and outside the borders of the Rockford Diocese that had recently built parish halls, asking the question: “If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?” 
That input helped lead to a fellowship hall to hold 300-400 people, the ability to divide the room in half, updated audio-visual equipment and lighting with separate controls for each side. 
The new St. Gabriel Hall has been digitally-enabled with equipment for presentations given through a wall-mounted television or a large screen through a projector. 
A catering (or warming) kitchen with two large, commercial refrigerators, stove and a dishwasher to meet health guidelines, a pass-through window and serving counters also resulted from information from other parishes and further ponderings of what Holy Family Parish needed.
A smaller hall on the other side of the new narthex and entrance is designed to appeal to the youths of the parish and is named for Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. That room features digital equipment and cushioned furniture for informal meetings, and it also can be divided into two rooms. 
The narthex in between welcomes people with Bible quotes as you enter and exit, and a coming-soon painting of the dove-form of the Holy Spirit, statues of St. Peter and St. Paul, and a new baptismal font. The narthex also has a welcome desk and is designed to encourage mingling and community building once COVID-19 subsides and coffee and donuts can resume.
The new construction includes men’s, women’s and family restrooms on the first floor. Another area, important to parish and visiting priests, is a much-larger sacristy. One confessional has been remodeled with a solid wall and a screen that can be opened for parishioner-requested face-to-face confession.
The church sanctuary has been improved in several ways, starting with much brighter, energy-efficient lighting with several settings to enhance, for example, parish missions or adoration. The large parish crucifix has been moved from the wall to be suspended above the altar.
The new tabernacle is housed closer to the altar and is elevated, as is the presider’s chair. A wheelchair lift, required by government regulation, is located against the wall below the crucifix’s former location.
Other features include new carpeting under the pews, new commercial vinyl in the aisles and elevated altar area, a refurbished cry room that now looks through windows into the sanctuary, and a new sound system that will help prevent singers from overpowering the organ or vice versa. 
The pews were lightly refinished and anchored to the floor with new kneelers.
In addition to some bigger donors, the percentage of parishioners who donated to the project was “just amazing,” says Tom Giovingo who provided most of this information.
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