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La Crosse cathedral renovation gets blessing

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La Crosse’s Catholic bishop has led a blessing for a cathedral renovation project which is likely to continue for most of the year. 

Bishop William Callahan told a small congregation on Friday that St. Joseph the Workman is ‘one of the most beautiful churches in Wisconsin.’ 

But the 60-year-old church is showing signs of age, with stones falling from the outside walls, and damage inside the building. 

Callahan and cathedral rector Msgr. Richard Gilles joined architect Steve Mar-Pohl at a news conference following the blessing ceremony.

Mar-Pohl says it’s “a dream come true” for him to work at the cathedral on the restoration project.

His team did three months of study around the building before starting the renovation last month.

Scaffolding was placed around the church months ago, when pieces of the stonework began breaking off.

Mar-Pohl says one large piece of stone fell hard enough to be driven 6 inches into the ground on impact.      

The $6 million project to preserve St. Joseph the Workman, which opened in 1962, is not merely for cosmetic purposes, according to Gilles.

“I’m not having these walls restored just so we have a building as a landmark,” said Gilles. “I don’t want this cathedral parish to be a museum, but a thriving, active, growing, vibrant parish:

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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