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Presentation Church undergoes renovation

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An April conversation about updating the inside of Butler County's Presentation Catholic Church will soon culminate in the parish's return to a newly-renovated sanctuary.

Presentation's pastor, Fr. Michael Ventre, said everything began more than six months ago when he approached the parish about doing some minor paint and carpet updates to the interior of Presentation Church, 1291 41 Road near Bellwood in Butler County. But that was just the beginning, Ventre said -- once the ball started rolling, it only picked up momentum.

"We painted the whole church and re-tiled the sanctuary and refinished the wood floors under the pews and the tiling in the aisles between the pews," Ventre said. "Then some other projects started to happen. Our sound system was old so we're updating that, and some of the electrical needed to be updated. Our confessional had no lights, no air-conditioning."

The renovation also includes a new pulpit, altar and communion rails. Before the renovation is over, almost every part of the church will have received some attention.

The parish brought Char Kriz on board to help design the renovation. Kriz and her husband are Catholic and -- while it's not all they do -- they have helped renovate several other Catholic churches.

"My husband had done a lot of work for the diocese over the years," Kriz said. "...I have a design studio so (when we met) we started having people call and ask us to help with projects, through word of mouth."

Ventre said Kriz prayed in Presentation Church before coming to the parish with suggestions for the renovation.

"If you see something, architecturally, it tells a story -- and this church tells a tremendous story with its dedication to Mary. It's absolutely gorgeous inside," Kriz said.

Kriz said she comes to the table with a vision but modifies it after getting some feedback to make sure the final product will fit the needs, wants and budget of each parish. Ventre said none of the renovation work would have been possible without several generous donations.

"I'd like to think that God has had a hand in it," Ventre said.

The Presentation parish was founded in 1874 but the building isn't quite that old. A few years after the parish was founded, the first church building burned down. The existing building was constructed in 1878.

Kriz said the age of the church has factored into the renovation.

"They rebuilt it out of tin and it's absolutely incredible because you cannot buy the type of tin they had, because of the architectural detail that's in it and the presence it has," Kriz said.

The parish's 60 or so families have been meeting in the nearby parish hall while the church undergoes renovations, which began around Labor Day.

Ventre said they hope for the work to be finished in time for the holidays.

"Hopefully they can finish up some time near or around Thanksgiving and then our bishop is going to come bless the new renovation and the new alters on Dec. 19," Ventre said.

Molly Hunter is a reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach her via email at molly.hunter@lee.net.

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