SAN ACACIO, Colo. — It was a dirty job, but the Knights were the guys to take it on.
This particular dirty job was to perform repairs at two historic churches – including the removal of 30 years’ worth of pigeon droppings in the tower of at San Francisco Church that was so bad it prevented the bell from functioning.
But now it rings for all to hear thanks to the work by members of St. Mark Highlands Ranch Council 1498. The initiative was part of a council service project to restore two churches.
The second one – San Acacio Church, built in 1853 — is the oldest standing church in Colorado. For five years, it sat unused.
Keith Lowry, a member of Council 1498, made several trips to San Acacio Church to assess the work that would need to be done.
“The pictures don’t do justice to show how bad that floor was,” Lowry said. “It was unusable. And of course, people were super frustrated with that and they just flat out didn’t have the money.”
At first, the Knights weren’t sure they had the skill to take on that project. Then, they asked brother Knight Dan Scribner — a general contractor — to oversee the project. He jumped at the opportunity and the floor was repaired.
Informed by their Catholic faith, Knights of Columbus councils around the world engage in community-oriented activities such as disaster relief efforts, providing coats for children in need and building homes with Habitat for Humanity.
Along with the repairs at San Acacio Church the Knights also worked to fix up San Francisco Church sits in a high mountain valley of Colorado. This church needed a new heating system since its furnaces no longer worked and Mass could only be celebrated there in warmer months.
The council made a preliminary trip last June to prep the job at San Francisco Church.
“We went on down and we had guys patch the white church,” Lowry said. “There was lots of cracking, lots of crumbling on the stucco work. Those guys worked their tails off.”
They also got to work on the bell tower. Lifts were delivered and the Knights cleaned out the waste, secured the bell with rope and put hardware cloth in place so the pigeons can’t return.
“I’ve done some dirty jobs but that pigeon scooping thing, that ranks up pretty high,” Lowry said.
This project marked the fourth consecutive year the council has completed a church restoration project. The first year they offered their time and money, Bishop Stephen Berg of the Diocese of Pueblo couldn’t believe his eyes.
“I think he thought somebody was going to jump out of the closet and tell him, ‘Yeah right, you fell for our gag,’” Lowry said.
This year, the Diocese of Pueblo matched the money the council raised for this year’s project. The council raised $25,000 at their fundraiser gala, so they had a total of $50,000 to work with.
The council returned to finish the job at San Francisco Church during the last week of June. They put on more than 50 gallons of white and blue paint, installed new furnaces and a gas line, and had electricians upgrade wiring.
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