BRUNSWICK — St. Ambrose Catholic Parish parishioners received a message of hope and faith in Jesus during Easter Mass in the newly renovated church.
The Rev. Bob Stec, pastor of St. Ambrose, said Sunday that it was “such a great blessing” to be able to welcome parishioners back for Easter services after four months of significant renovation work to the church at 929 Pearl Road.
It was the first time the congregation was able to celebrate a Sunday Mass in the church since the Christmas holiday. It was a homecoming embraced by many.
“When the people streamed in, this beautiful building became more radiant because of these really wonderful people,” Stec said.
“The community just has a strong love for God, for each other, and they do good work in the Lord, and when they filled this building, it was radiant,” Stec added.
The congregation filled the brightened-up church, which features a new altar and crucifix, in addition to expanded seating for 1,135 people.
During the service, the Rev. Rob Ramser said it was “exuberant” and “joyful” to be a part of the first Easter Mass in the renovated church and to see the people fill the pews.
The church, originally built 36 years ago, was basically taken down to the studs and built back up again, Ramser said.
“It really gives new meaning to being a family of good and on this day when we rejoice so much, Jesus’ Resurrection, we just can’t help to say Alleluia,” he said immediately following the 7:30 a.m. Mass.
Longtime church members and Brunswick residents Michael and Mary Jo Schall agreed the brighter look to the church’s sanctuary is a great improvement.
“It is very bright in there. You can actually see now, I love it,” Michael Schall said.
His wife, Mary Jo, said the sound also is greatly improved, and the new roof is another important improvement for the congregation of about 5,200 families.
“The sound has improved so much, and our leaky roof is gone,” she said. “We no longer have 11 buckets catching water.”
During the service, Ramser compared the work that Jesus does in people’s lives to how yeast can quietly and slowly change over time, making bread expand.
“It is the same with the resurrection of Christ,” Ramser said.
Appropriately for the Resurrection Day Mass, Ramser spoke of a message of hope, telling those in attendance that there is nothing in life that is beyond hope.
“He has risen from the tomb and defeated all that can harm us, all that can drag us down,” he said.
“There is nothing in your life, nothing in our lives, my friends, that is beyond hope,” Ramser added. “Nothing in our life is beyond the power of Jesus Christ.”
Ramser said the main takeaway message he would like the congregation to walk away with is that “There is always new life in Jesus.”
“We are not a finished product,” he added. “He is never done with us, so keep on having hope.”
The roughly $5 million renovation was funded through a combination of donations from parishioners, fundraisers and a summer festival. Grants and state funding also were used to complete the project.