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La Crosse Cathedral celebrates end of two-year renovation, after $6 million raised

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Two years of church renovations, including massive scaffolding that was wrapped around the building, are now finished at La Crosse’s St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral.

The “Beacon of Light and Hope” event included a late-morning mass Sunday and a festival in the parking lot after the service.

One organizer of Sunday’s event, Tammy Weinberger, said the celebration also marked 62 years since the cathedral cornerstone was laid.

The church, located at 6th and Main, was dedicated in 1962, and about $6 million were raised to make improvements and repairs.

“We started out because stone was literally starting to fall off the building,” La Crosse Bishop William Callahan said about the project, which replaced 100 tons of limestone and kept the church surrounded by scaffolding for several months. “We had to close 6th Street because it was coming down and it was very dangerous for people.”

The changes also included the installation of lights to illuminate the cathedral at night. Callahan said the lights were first turned on this weekend.

Monsignor Richard Gilles, rector of the cathedral, says church life seems to be getting back to normal, after the construction and the pandemic.

“I had one lady say to me, I’ve been here for 25 years, I’ve never seen anything like this,” Gilles said, “so this is big-time celebration.”

Scaffolding covered the building while stones were replaced, cleaned or else just examined.

Among the guests attending the celebration was Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki, who served as bishop of the La Crosse Diocese from 2004 to 2009.

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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