OGDEN — It has been about a year since a storm damaged St. Joseph Catholic Church, and the first phase of repairs is expected to be finished by Friday.
Church volunteer Jim Jensen is in charge of the repairs. Since retiring from the aerospace industry, he has volunteered to do some maintenance work for the church.
“In 2011, we had a major storm, and it caused a great deal of damage to the church,” Jensen said.
The fall 2011 storm damaged a steeple and other parts of the church.
With permission from the church, Jensen allocated all of the insurance money to repair the steeple, so no more water would leak into the church and cause further damage.
Then Jensen got to work finding a contractor to make the repairs, hiring Redd Roofing and Construction, of Ogden.
Now the steeple is almost completed following a month of work.
However, it will be a long and expensive road ahead to return the 100-plus-year-old church, at 514 24th St. in Ogden, to its original splendor.
The long list of needed repairs includes fixing water damage inside the building, replacing the shingles on the roof and mending the worn sandstone, originally quarried from the Trappist monastery in Huntsville, that covers the church.
But the most immediate concern is to fix the bell tower.
During the same storm that damaged the steeple, lightning struck the base of the cross that sits atop the church.
Jensen said crews cleaned up the cross and gave it a fresh coat of paint, but it will eventually need to come down and be replaced.
Before the repairs began, though, Jensen learned he had to jump many hurdles, including meetings with the Ogden City Council and the Historical Society.
“I went to probably five or six meetings,” Jensen said.
With the help of people from Redd Roofing and Construction, Jensen navigated the process to get a permit, which eventually allowed them to use less expensive materials to get the building fixed correctly.
“I’m an aerospace person,” Jensen said. “I don’t know a lot about construction or roofs.”
Now that the first repair is done, the church needs help with the cost to finish the remaining repairs.
“Basically we compromised all of the money we had,” Jensen said. “We are hoping we can get a grant or something. We’re really hurting for money.”
Simply renting the lift cost the church about $10,000 a month, Jensen said.
In all, Jensen figures finishing the outside of the church will cost almost $4 million and the inside will cost $2 million.
The Rev. Ken Vialpando, church pastor, already set up a fund to set aside money for repairs each month.
And while the Roman Catholic Church may be a large and wealthy institution, each parish is autonomous and responsible for its own buildings.
“It is totally self-sustaining,” Jensen said. “Each and every church is built by the people of that church.”
And it will be up to the parishioners to make the repairs.
To make a donation, call Vialpando at 801-399-5627 and specify the money is for the church repair fund.