There’s a “hologram” of namesake St. Joseph and the Christ child hovering, suspended in space, above the gorgeous renovated interior.
And it’s inside a cross.
The image, which is a reflection of the church’s stained glass above the front entrance wasn’t planned as part of the renovation now nearing completion.
“It’s something that just happened,” Father Ramon Frayna, St. Joseph’s priest, said. “It wasn’t planned. We don’t know if it will still be visible once the lights are installed.”
But church visitors, and work crews alike, have noticed the phenomenon, which is only visible from a small area.
The “cross” is framework from plate glass.
NEW CHURCH—The rest of the sanctuary is basically new as the estimated $350,000 renovation program nears completion.
“The walls are the same,” contractor Charles Bland said. “Just about everything else in the sanctuary’s interior is new. That includes handicapped restrooms, new day chapel, sacristy, ceiling molding and more.”
And there’s a stunning new circular stained glass centerpiece high above the altar.
A depiction of the Holy Family, it was made in Italy and shipped to St. Joseph’s, a donation by Willie and Pat Barcak in honor and memory of their late grandson, Austyn James Barcak.
The project is almost complete.
“We’re hoping to have the pews and lighting done in time to have the first masses in the ‘new’ church on Sunday, Dec. 8,” Fr. Frayna said.
That’s the second Sunday of Advent.
A dedication ceremony is planned in January with Bishop Joseph Vasquez, bishop of the Diocese of Austin.
BEQUEST—The new sanctuary is a bequest from one of the most legendary figures in Rockdale business history.
Josie Palmer was personal secretary to H. H. “Pete” Coffield, Rockdale businessman and Texas political figure.
She worked for Coffield from 1936 until his death in 1979 and continued to be employed by the Coffield Estate until her death, at age 94, in 2007. That’s a total of 71 years.
Miss Palmer’s will specified a bequest to St. Joseph’s in a memorial fund named for her parents, Will S. and Mildred (Kocian) Palmer. The Palmers were members of the congregation.
Fr. Frayna said Miss Palmer’s will specified the bequest was to be used for maintenance and improvement to the church.
Members of the congregation’s finance council were Jeff Zapata, Rita Juergens, Pat Barcak and Tom Lawhon
Meetings were held and parishioner Tom Hormuth headed up a committee who worked with the architectural firm of Jackson, Galloway & Associated of Austin and submitted plans to the diocese, which approved the project.
Fr. Frayna said the congregation wanted to keep construction local and hired the Bland firm to undertake the renovation.
The project began in June.
Masses are being celebrated in the church educational building while the sanctuary is under renovation.
HISTORY—The project makes 2013 one of the signature dates in the Rockdale parish’s history.
Local Catholics were prominent during Rockdale’s frontier days, beginning in 1874, and built their first sanctuary in 1880.
In 1912 that church was demolished to make way for a new building, complete with bell tower that was St. Joseph’s Church until 1967.
That’s the year the present church was constructed. This renovation is the most extensive in its history.
The 1912-1967 building was moved to a site on the grounds of Rainbow Courts and has been listed as one of Texas’ most historic buildings.