The following is the text of an email communication sent January 11, 2017 to friends of Terra Sancta Ministries:
Happy New Year! As 2017 begins, we want to update you on some of the many repairs and renovations that have been taking place over the last two years at the headquarters of Terra Sancta Ministries: the Chapel of St. Joseph (the church) and the Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (shrine-grotto), in Pontiac, Michigan. We have been continuing to work hard, project after project, to open the doors to the public as a safe, comfortable, and inspiring place of prayer.
Keeping in mind that some of you may not wish to read through all the detail below, we want to give thanks now to the Lord for providing all the wonderful donors, contractors, workers, volunteers, and prayer warriors! You know who you are. Thank you and God bless you for your part in this important God-given mission. We could not have made such progress without you! We seem to be very close to being able to open, at least at first, on a limited basis, so please keep us in your prayers! Be assured of our prayers for you!
In Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,
Fr. Alex Kratz, OFM, Patti Giangrande, OFS, and Laura Sovel
Behind the Scenes
In the first year, there were many repairs and improvements to the basic systems of the buildings. Everything from plumbing, heating and cooling, and electrical wiring and circuits had to be addressed and brought up to code. We addressed water seepage, mold, security systems, and more, to make the buildings safe and secure.
St. Joseph Chapel prior to renovation:
St. Joseph Chapel after renovation:
It was very exciting over this last year to finally be able to address the more visible improvements. We had new roofs installed on all 4 building (the house, garage, church, and shrine-grotto), and for anyone driving by, you can see what a difference the new vinyl siding and stone work makes on the exterior appearance! Of course there are many other smaller jobs that were done too: from replacing steps and ramp boards, gutters, having the parking lot patched, and other work to the grounds. There is still a list of outdoor projects that we hope to continue to tackle, some needing to wait until spring.
Interior of the Church
The most dramatic interior changes are in the church. The sanctuary now has a beautiful dark wood floor, new red carpet throughout the rest of the church and a tiled entrance. Walls, ceilings, and trim were repaired where needed and everything was repainted. The ceiling in the main body of the church was upgraded with drywall and there are new light fixtures throughout. The old bookshelves in the back of the church were removed and the confessional built out to be more spacious. Detailed Stations of the Cross, hand-carved from olivewood by Christians in Bethlehem, adorn the walls. The beautifully restored statue of Our Lady of the Cape sits on a new side altar on the left (if you are facing the main altar) with a newly acquired and restored statue of St. Joseph holding Baby Jesus on a matching altar, on the right. The niche in the wall above the back altar was sealed and the crucifix from the back of the church was moved and refitted to hang on the wall, just above the tabernacle, and the corpus beautifully repainted. The tabernacle itself was found hidden in the attic of the church and sent out to be refinished in dazzling gold and silver plating.
Shrine-Grotto and House Interior
The marble statue of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary in the small shrine-grotto was cleaned with a special process and the painted highlighted areas touched up. She looks beautiful! New flooring was also installed. In the house, walls were repaired and painted, new carpet added, and new blinds on all of the windows, a washer and drier and dishwasher were all installed. Of course there have been many other little constant jobs completed as well.
Praise God for all He has done!