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Renovations under way on 111-year-old Johnsburg church

Published: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 2:52 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 11:38 p.m. CDT
(Kyle Grillot - kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
Conrad Roofing of Illinois employee Joe Machaji prepares sheets of copper outside of St. John-Baptist Catholic Church. The church is under renovations as Conrad Roofing of Illinois installs a copper roof on the building. This project is estimated to take up to a year for completion.

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JOHNSBURG – On the Rev. Jacek Junak’s first day as pastor of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Johnsburg, he went into the confessional booth to collect his thoughts.

Moments later, a piece of plaster fell from the roof of the 111-year-old church and landed atop the confessional.

Junak knew then that the church was in need of repair.

St. John the Baptist began a capital campaign in November to raise $1.2 million to fix the interior and exterior of the roof, which hadn’t been updated for more than 30 years.

“I looked around and I saw a lot of things I would like to upgrade or renovate inside,” said Junak, who joined St. John the Baptist in 2009. “But when I learned about the roof, I stopped dreaming and I knew we had to fix the roof first.”

Phase 1 of the two-phase plan will remove the existing roof over the church and choir area and replace it with a copper roof. That phase is expected to be completed by the winter. Phase 2 will involve repairing the steeples, and the timetable for completion is dependent upon fundraising.

As of Tuesday, the church had collected more than $450,000, with an additional $336,000 in pledged money coming in the next three years.

“Several generations will not have to worry about the roof anymore,” Junak said. “It will secure this beautiful, historic building. It’s quite a piece of history.”

The copper roof will give the church a more European style, said Junak, who is from Poland.

“After several years, the copper will turn green … It will be beautiful,” he said.

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