Pastor's Message Archives

Looking back at the weekly messages of Father Paul Counce, first published in The Carpenter, our weekly Parish Bulletin

Chapel Ceiling Repairs

Published: July 30, 2017

My dear Parishioners and Friends,


            By the time you read this issue of The Carpenter, you may also notice a little mess in church. Last year, at the recommendation of Post Architects and Fox-Nesbit Engineers, we undertook a structural analysis of our venerable Cathedral building. It had been a half-century since we’d done this, and when dealing with an old structure with so many difficult-to-access parts and places, it was just a good idea to doublecheck the soundness of the building.


And you’ll be happy to know that the structure of St. Joseph Cathedral is sound and well-maintained. No significant structural problems were found. There are a few cosmetic issues, of course. The most noticeable of these are the chalky “blooms” of dust here and there on the interior brickwork, where past leaks occurred. It can take ten years for moisture to leach out of the porous brick and evaporate, and the white dust is evidence of where that’s happening. So all we can do about this for a while is sigh, and “dust the walls” every now and then!


But those past leaks – and a couple of termite infestations some 20 to 30 years ago, at least – also have left a few issues to be dealt with. Over the next few weeks our architects and engineer will supervise teams to repair and replace the decorative ceilings in the two side chapels of the Cathedral building. Some of that wood is in very bad shape. We certainly hope that when the workers get up there they don’t find any structural damage above the ceiling but below the roof!


In the best-case scenario, it will just take a few weeks to repair and replace any damaged wood, stain it to match the remaining ceiling, and re-cast and install the decorative moldings up there. If other issues are found, of course, we’ll address these immediately, while the scaffolding is in place and expert workers are on site. We’re again entrusting this work to Stuart & Co., who have done outstanding contracting work for us over the last few years. So say a prayer or two or three or ten: for the workers’ safety, that no unexpected problems are encountered, and that the beautiful interior of our worship-space will be back to normal soon!


Oh, and one item about the Cathedral’s exterior: it’s been 15 years since our slate roof was completely replaced. So we’ve asked Cribb’s Roofing to climb up there again to check it out and make sure all is in order up there, as it should be. They’ll check out the gutters and flashings, too, to minimize the chance of future leaks.


Of course, you’re probably already asking: “what’s all this gonna cost?” and “how are we paying for it?” It is my hope that the lion’s share of the expense can be handled by the interest produced by our dedicated Building and Maintenance Fund at the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. But we won’t know until the workers get up there and discern the total amount of damage and thus of replacement-costs. Don’t worry: the generosity of our Cathedral parishioners and friends over the years has always been sufficient to meet our needs, especially where the structure and beauty of the Cathedral building itself is concerned. I am confident that if I come to you for help with this project, the Lord will guide your heart in giving.


Special gifts can also be of great help in this kind of thing. I want to acknowledge yet another generous bequest from Mrs. Viola Tullier Taylor, a long-time friend of the Cathedral who died this past December. She remembered her Cathedral in her will, providing a very substantial gift to us. Now we all must gratefully remember her and her kindness in our prayers, please.


                                                            Sincerely in the Lord,

                                                            Fr. Paul

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