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Work nearly complete on Bayville's St. Gertrude's Church

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The newly polished pews of Saint Gertrude's Roman Catholic Church currently sit empty and some remain covered in plastic. The prayer space hasn't been used in a year and the altar is housing two giant sets of scaffolding.
 
The quaint, hillside church in Bayville is undergoing a massive refurbishment. The project was started a year ago and is expected to be done by the end of 2020.
 
"It's a beautiful church . . . The people love it and I think they're even going to love it more [now] that it's brightened up," Pastor Robert O. Morrissey said.
 
Specific updates include adding a new bathroom, refurbishing the pews, replacing the roof and upgrading to LED lighting, among other things.
 
The project is running smoothly, said Al Staab, one of the two parishioners in charge of construction. Staab said it has been successful as a result of using local construction companies. "The local guys have really saved us a lot," he said. "Not just money but the job they've done has been incredible. 
 
They get parishioners, so they have more of an interest than just a job," he added. "They take pride in the community and they're proud to be a part of St. Gertrude's."
 
The project, funded by the community, had a fundraising goal of $1.5 million, however, they're currently working under budget at about $1.1 million.
 
"Some of our local contractors were so good that we were able to move some of the stuff projected for Phase 2 into Phase 1," Staab said, "so we're pretty well along the way."
 
Much of the interior construction will be completed in the next month. For now, everything is held in the Parish Center, a gymnasium-turned-church located across the parking lot.
 
"We're lucky we have a secondary place [where] we can do these things," said Ed Minicozzi Jr., the other parishioner in charge of construction. "It's not the first time we've had to move things up there. The community gets it."
 
The coronavirus pandemic did affect construction over the last few months but not by much,  Staab said. Both the planning committee and the construction workers were unable to meet during the state-wide lockdown.
 
"Once the contractors were allowed to go back to work, they jumped on it right away," Staab said. "It did slow us down but not to the point where it held up the project much."
 
Dave Rapelje, a local historian, said the restoration marks the biggest in church history.
 
The church was built between 1909-1910 as part of St. Dominic's Parish. In 1937 the worshippers nearly doubled and in 1959 St. Gertrude's became its own parish. The building has seen small upgrades over the years since then but Rapelje said nothing of any substance had [been] done since 1937." 
 
The 2020 renovation was spearheaded by a committee of four parishioners. Staab and Minicozzi deal with the construction while two others, Jim Gay and Nick Salerno, cover the finances. St. Gertrude's last pastor, Rev. Dave Regan began the project before moving. The new pastor, Morrissey, has since taken it over. Morrissey joined the parish roughly a month ago.
 
"I'm very lucky to be able to take up the pastorate after Father Regan who's done so much work here," Morrissey said. "I'm looking forward to sharing [the church] with the people once we can come back in to have mass. It'll be great to do it in such a beautiful, refurbished church."