St. Francis Xavier open after renovations

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- Three months to the day after the historical St. Francis Xavier Cathedral closed for renovations, the church opens its doors again for service.

“It's a little bit of an early Christmas for all of us,” says Michael Poradek, Divine Worship Director for the Diocese of Green Bay. “Just the excitement of being in the restored space, the enthusiasm around it that people have had, the enthusiasm for the church itself.”

Not an empty pew in sight on Sunday, as faces new and old join mass.

“We're very excited to have everyone here and recognizing the Cathedral church for the first time, or some who have been coming their entire life,” Poradek says.

“It’s the same, but it’s different. It’s better,” says Marge Fuchs, a parishioner. “We're giving more praise to The Lord by involving more people in our church too.”

The Cathedral was closed starting September 3, as crews worked to update the flooring, pews, sound system, organ, and refurbish the chapel’s oil paintings.

"Some just basic maintenance repairs, and as we went along, we realized there were quite a few other things that we can update," Poradek says. "The sound system, the beautiful works of art in the Cathedral have all been restored, and also preserved for the next generations to come."

“I walked to the back without looking, and [turned] around, and I was just awestruck. I felt like I wanted to cry,” Fuchs remembers. “It's always been so beautiful here, but now with all the renovations... The mural. You see things in the mural you never even realized were there before the cleaning.”

Renovations totaled close to $2.4 million.

All this comes ahead of next year’s Jubilee Year for the church, marking its 150th anniversary.