LAFAYETTE, La. — The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist started in 1821, with the current church building constructed in 1916.
Over the years, some great things have happened here, but, conversely, there have been some storms, wind, rain and the simple passage of time.
Some damage has been done to the building, and so, there's some work that needs to be done.
“I'm not quite sure of the dimensions, I think it's around 9,000 square feet of roofing that we had to cover,” says Father Chester Arceneaux, pastor of the Cathedral. “During Hurricane Delta last year, we had some damage that happened. The roof was aging, but this damage came from the center of the roof, and this wind damage that we had, we knew one day we would have to address it."
Officials say the time to address the roof and other issues at the Cathedral is here. In fact, over the next six months or so, visitors will see a flurry of activity, activity that has been a long time coming.
“I think it was 1985 that the Cathedral was addressed with renovations. And that was the first thing, that we need a roof, that would then help us focus on other areas," adds Arceneaux.
The price of the roof? Over one million dollars. And those other areas? The new A/C isn't that much cheaper, either.
"As you can see right now, we have the HVAC system being taken care of,” says Father Arceneaux, directing my eyes to activity in the front of the church. “That's a project that's going to be about $700,000. That's since 1961--it's amazing, since I'm 61, so that's when I was born--- that's how long we’ve had that HVAC system."
"We have structural cracks here and there...." Initial fund raising has gone well, and the Cathedral is well on its way, although help is still needed. There's a seven-figure price tag, remember? But Father Chester has found that, in our area, there are lots and lots of good faithful people. "They realize the Cathedral is more than just a church, faith community,” smiles Father Arceneaux. “It's been a beacon and icon for this whole community of Acadiana. "
If you care to help out this nearly $2,000,000 project, here's one way to do it: The annual Historical Preservation Gala, benefiting both the Cathedral and its programs, happens November 20th. Call the church office for details on that. (Visit https://www.saintjohncathedral.org/ for more information or call 337-232-1322).
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