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The location where St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Ireland once stood is looking different.

Crews began demolishing the 117-year-old church last week.

Property Manager, Patrick Gress, says the demolition helped them see what condition the building was really in.

“The only thing that was holding that building together was the weight. It was in worse shape than I anticipated. The mortar in between the bricks was literally turning to powder,” he says.

The path to demolition and building a new facility was not an easy process. Gress says the idea has been in the works for decades.

“The idea came up nearly 50 years ago. They knew there were problems with the church building back then, but they managed to fix it and keep it going for a number of years,” he says.

Those attending the mass in the new building say feel like a dream. Gress explains how it impacts him.

“It’s pretty surreal to sit there during mass and think about everything we went through during the building process to get to this point,” he says.

The new building still pays tribute to the old facility, but there are a few upgrades.

“We have a crying room and a lot more space. We can handle over double the number of people. The offices are incorporated in the lower level. We have bathrooms everywhere, which is nice. The old facility only had one bathroom, and the others were outside,” he says.

Gress says they have gotten nothing but positive feedback.

“Everybody who has come to talk to me is very pleased with it. We have some things in here that you just don’t see being installed in new churches anymore. The high altar for example, behind the main altar, is one of those things, and it’s a beautiful piece of artwork,” he says.

The church is home to 1,023 families and 2,743 members are registered with the parish.

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