by Paula Glover
FLUSH — Many hours of volunteer work and fundraising efforts by the small parish of St. Joseph here, just east of Manhattan, culminated on Sept. 26 with the blessing and dedication of the church’s new elevator.
Parishioner Lucille Heptig has been unable to attend the church because she can’t climb the steep stairs at the front of the building.
But she was in the front row this Sunday, using the new elevator to reach the sanctuary. Then, she took the elevator to the basement for the reception that followed the Mass and blessing. Many people took a moment to visit with her during the reception.
Heptig’s son Kevin noted that the elevator was more than a practical asset — the addition actually enhanced the church’s appearance. He said that over the years many options were discussed, “but I think they went about it the right way.”
The stained-glass windows that were removed from the side entrance where the elevator was installed were used again in the elevator area.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am to see some of the parishioners who haven’t been able to be with us in church,” said parishioner Ellen Wilson.
Dale Magnett and his wife Marge were instrumental in the push for the elevator, which also includes new bathrooms in the basement and a small bathroom off the sacristy.
“It was really the Holy Spirit that led this effort,” said Dale Magnett, “and many prayers to St. Anthony the builder.”
He credited Lardner Stone in Topeka with matching the stone of the existing church. In comments during the reception, Magnett noted that people visiting the church didn’t realize that there was a new addition; it blends in so successfully.
Although discussions about the need for an elevator started almost 20 years ago, a new push was begun early in 2009 to raise the necessary $275,000.
In addition to the fundraising, many volunteers gave time to the project, which helped keep the cost down.
Father John Pilcher, pastor of St. Joseph, said that, in the end, it was a matter of justice.
“We need to help people to get into the church,” he said simply.