MANCHESTER — Ongoing interior renovations at the historic 100-plus year old Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic, the oldest active wooden Catholic Church in Manchester, are nearly complete after a facelift that has lasted several months.
The church on Walnut street was built in 1894 as a Baptist church and purchased in 1907 by the Ukrainian Catholic church. It was at this time the exterior structure saw changes resulting in the features visible today and the church was officially dedicated in 1908.
The parish led by Father Robert Smolley currently serves approximately 45 local families, a total of about 75 parishioners.
Local Knights of Columbus Council 92 assisted heavily in the renovations to help reduce the overall cost of the badly needed repairs.
Local Knights efforts at the church included shortening the pews and kneelers to widen the side aisles, removal of the old flooring and carpets and the removal of old steam radiators and piping.
The Knights contributed approximately 90 hours of effort that otherwise would have been contracted out at significant cost. Contractors followed the Knights’ efforts by repairing or replacing some electrical systems, laying new tile, and are now finishing work in the living space.
The cost of the contractors was offset by a generous bequest from a parishioner.
The Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization. It was founded by Father Michael J. McGivney in the United States in 1882, and is named in honor of Christopher Columbus. In 2012, Knights contributed $167.5 million and volunteered over 70 million hours of their time to charitable causes.
Council 92 meets the first Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary church on 54 Walnut St.