Curé of Ars Church undergoes a $4.5 million renovation project
by Jessica Langdon
LEAWOOD — Sections of the bare floors were still taped off and the new furniture — including the pews — hadn’t yet arrived.
But even with construction underway all around him, Msgr. Charles McGlinn, pastor of Curé of Ars Parish in Leawood, could already see signs of new sparkle in the “major spacelift” happening in the church.
“People have remarked before we started that the building was kind of old and tired and beat up — you know, kind of like the pastor,” said Msgr. McGlinn with self-deprecating humor.
He’d even heard rumors that some brides-to-be sought out other churches they thought were nicer looking.
The decades-old church building definitely had some issues that needed to be addressed: a leak, water damage on the roof, tired carpet and pressed-wood pews that had seen better days, to name a few.
When a committee addressed issues with the building, everyone agreed that if they were going to spend a lot of money, it made sense to do it right and make this a very attractive church, said Msgr. McGlinn.
The church needed some accessibility improvements, too, he said.
The project carries an anticipated $4.5 million price tag so far. Many parishioners have pledged their help, pitching in as they always do when there’s a need. “This is not just a building project,” said Msgr. McGlinn. “It’s also a spiritual project.”
The doors to the church closed and Masses moved to the school gym at the beginning of June so construction could start.
“It’s a top-to-bottom renovation,” said Msgr. McGlinn.
The church now has new furniture — on the altar and elsewhere.
There are new walnut pews.
There’s new flooring, new LED lighting (which should be energy- saving), and new sound (with the old sound system installed in the gym for things like plays and the auction).
There’s also new paint, new heating and air conditioning in some places, and a new choir area.
New Stations of the Cross have been placed in the church, and niches were added into the walls to hold the statues.
Restrooms have been updated and made more accessible, and new handicap-accessible entrances greet parishioners outside.
And the list goes on.
For Dave Ruf, a Curé parishioner and vice president of J.E. Dunn Construction, this project means a lot.
“This is doing everything with your heart and soul,” he said.
Msgr. McGlinn guided him into the church through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program, and presided at his wedding to his wife Jennifer.
All four of their children were baptized at this church.
Ruf has led the project through its ups and downs, readying the building for today’s parishioners . . . and for future generations.
He, too, looks forward to having this church be a natural place for weddings, complete with more space for preparations.
He was excited about an updated look for the church.
“It has a very traditional feel with a bit of a modern touch,” he said.
After much anticipation, parishioners got to see their church in all its glory on Oct. 26, when Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann celebrated the noon Mass and blessed the renovated building.
This was the most expensive project Msgr. McGlinn has undertaken in his 27 years at the parish, but this is something he wants for Curé and its 2,100 families.
“We have a lot of wonderful families,” he said. “They have a terrific sense of community, a real commitment to participate in the ministries — and they really like each other.”
The parish is also home to Father Larry Bowers, associate pastor; Father Jerry Spencer, senior priest in residence; and Father Quy Ta of Hanoi, Vietnam, who is living at Curé while he learns English at Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas, on his path to studying canon law.
The sacred space is where the word of God is proclaimed, the Eucharist is celebrated, and the faith is nurtured, said Msgr. McGlinn.
He believes its beauty can only enhance the worship experience.
“I look forward to celebrating with the people in the renewed church,” said Msgr. McGlinn. “I know that they’re going to really love it. I know that they’re going to be really, really proud of their church.”