JASPER, Ind. (WEHT) — It has been a little over a month since St. Joseph Catholic Church opened their doors for the first time after being closed for nearly two years. Major renovations are finally complete. Parishioners got to see the changes for the first time on December 10 during a special dedication mass.

“They were excited to be back in the church,” says Alan Hoffman.

Hoffman represented the Parish and managed the renovation project. He says it came with a price tag of just under $10 million. The money was raised through the churches “Our Time” Capital Campaign.

“This whole church is a gift from our ancestors. They built it. So, we thought it was our time to really preserve it and restore it for future generations,” he says.

Studies for the renovations began back in 2017, but crews were not able to start the project until 2021. Then the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation hit, causing delays.

“In terms of getting people and fundraising and having workers feeling well enough to be here…it was challenging,” says Hoffman.

The first phase began in 2021. Crews worked on conserving the grand stone of the exterior, including the bell tower.

“We had some stone facing that was chipping off. So, we had to cut out sections and replace and put some stone patches in there,” Hoffman says.

After this, crews begam working inside the church.

“Our windows were bowing, and we had some glass breakage. The frames were weak, so they had to be completely rebuilt,” he says.

Contractors also built a new area to separate the welcoming space from the worship space. Crews also put in a new alter and renovated the ceiling and decorative paintings.

Father Christian Raab was appointed to the Parish in June of this year. He says he was impressed by the restoration project.

“It was awesome. They did such a spectacular job with the construction and work. You can come in here and you can get a real feeling of grange, mystery, and beauty,” he says.

According to the church website, major restoration like this has not happened in over 50 years.