Renovation of St. Eligius Church 2015

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After the new handicapped accessible Pfarrheim, with a covered outdoor terrace, was inaugurated in September 2007; the members of the former board of directors felt drained. After new elections and a partially new composition of the board, it was quickly agreed upon that the reorganization and restoration of the Herforst parish church had to be tackled as a new major project.
The question was, how the church renovation could be accomplished without much money. Finances were exhausted after the new construction of the Pfarrheim.

Meanwhile, the hedges and bushes at the back side of the church had developed into a small woodland, with the highest brush reaching a height of more than three meters; additionally, there was a highly branched root system.
In Spring 2012, the men of the former Board of Directors began, along with some volunteers, with the grubbing-up of this uncontrolled growth. After this thicket was discarded and an outside firm had small milled the root system, we were able to strip the top soil with an excavator.
The church square and the stairs leading up the the entrance represented a great risk for accidents. Disintegration of the sandstone slabs, sandstone block steps cracked by frost and the  heavy steel railing, hanging more or less on a thread, required urgent action. Since these repairs were only possible with the funding and approval of the diocese administration, a safety-related overall review of  the church's condition was conducted in cooperation with the competent committee of the General Archdiocese. 





Unfortunately, the authority didn't classify the stairs leading up to the church and the church square as the biggest safety risk, but the roof space of the church.
Straw sheaves and piles of wood scraps were found there, which had laid there for more than 50 years. they were classified as severe fire hazard. The walkway under the church roof was a boardwalk without lateral boundary, and the way up in the steeple was only possible by climbing  an old, wooden ladder with a length of 4 meters. The entire roof was lit by a 40 watts flashlight. Furthermore, it was not to be overlooked, that there was once a breeding place for a  whole host of pigeons.
Safety reasons made it first priority to start with the renovation of the roof space of the church.

Initial cleaning and removal of the fire hazards were done by a waste management company, due to the enormous amount of dust posing a health risk. All other work was carried out in voluntary work by the community. It was hard and sweaty labor, all the planks and material had to be transported by hand into the roof space.
A path made of thick planks with railings on both sides was installed over the entire church and its two sides. The dedicated workers also built a new staircase with intermediate landing platform for the tower.
A new lighting system, which was also designed by volunteers, now lights out the roof space and the new way up into the tower. This work was funded by a grant of the diocese, the Herforst parish community had to finance the rest.
When the safety inspector of the diocese administration came for certification, he was full of praise for this unusual performance. He certified us full compliance with relevant regulations. With the tremendous volunteer work and by waiving all of the planning and construction supervision cost, all of the measures were completed at no cost to the Herforst parish..
This unpredictable priority change did not fit into our original plan, but there is a German saying, which means translated: "No damage is ever so large that there wouldn't be the slightest benefit resulting from it". And that is how it came that in the meantime Herforst was recognized as village renewal community. As a result there were several possibilities to receive funding for various projects. 
In the course of the village modernization program, a draft for the new design of the church surrounding area was prepared by an external agency. The fact-based implementation planning was further developed by Dipl. Ing. Adalbert Meier, who also weighed in our possibilities and created a detailed cost estimate. This plan, with the exception of small amendments found broad support, however with the provision to also submit a coherent financing plan. This was easier said than done. The support from the village modernization program and partial funding by the diocese were promised. At the request of the board, the Herforst community also declared its willingness to subsidize the measure.
By dispensing the planning and construction supervision costs, which were conducted "in-house", the extensive voluntary work, and the favorable development interest rates, we were given the green light for the implementation of phase 1 of the modernization of the church surrounding area by the overseeing diocese.
We can't list all of the individual items, which were done in the course of the church renovation process, but in the following we would like to provide you with information of our most  important work:
  • Renewal of the stairs with the wall covering and sandstone veneer.
  • The existing, very massive, wrought iron railing was re-anchored completely sanded, primed and provided with a finishing coat.
  • The missing steel railing on  the side was crafted and attached.
  • The foundation and the base area of the church and sacristy were stabilized in the rear region, drained with a drainage system and resealed. At  the same time, the primary drainage pipes were replaced.
  • The chuch square is, as one can see, completely redesigned, expanded and extended with new water supply. To accommodate the Christmas tree a new ground sleeve was installed. Two new flagpoles serve on holidays for flagging.
  • The walkways around the church were also new designed. In conjunction with the new angular stones along the sandstone boundary wall, the Christian symbol, a "fish shape" was formed.
  • Part of the sandstone boundary wall was so heavily perfoliated with roots, sometimes arm-thick branches, that the stability was endangered. The branches and roots had to be removed and the wall, as far as it was detached, had to be removed, rebuilt, and  to the extend attainable, also regrouted by us in painstaking detail.
  • Particularly important was that the Lourdesgrotte on its backside had to be completely freed from ivy and its square cross-roots. Additionally, it had to be re-grouted for preservation from decay.
  • The forecourt of the grotto could be paved again with cobblestones, which were exposed at the excavation at the church. Reusable sandstone blocks increased the level of the grotto forecourt and bordered it from the side. This created a compatible connection between old and new design.
  • Opposite the entry of the sacristy, the dustbins will have a new shielded place, once the installation of the dwelling is completed.
  • In the sacristy and the anteroom,  new, triple-glazed wooden windows in memorial design with interior stained glass in old German glass were installed. Also urgently necessary basement windows were installed.
  • Green areas: These were completed solely by our volunteer work force. In the "fish-shaped" center island, we planted three ball maple trees. They all have been planted with a special root protection system, which only allows for controlled spread of the root system.
  • Roll sod, bordered by shrubs, flowering plants, roses and perennials, give the newly created outdoor complex a friendly, welcoming and well-groomed appearance.
  • Thanks to the support from RWE, we were able to illuminate the area behind the church with new standing lamps (Schinkelleuchten), which creates a nice atmospheree in this new environment in evenings.
  • We are particularly proud that after 40 years, our new tower clock has a digital heart and strikes the full hour. The old, but yet new dial was sandblasted, cleaned and repainted.
  • During the restoration process our church also received a new exterior coat of paint.
  • The main electric distribution system including the sacristy lighting was completely renewed by voluntary work. The sacristy also received a new interior painting.
Every visitor will notice, that the volunteer work has paid off and the church surroundings were visibly embellished by the extensive measures in this part (phase 1).
Prideful, we can determine that we did not exceed our budget and that we provided 1,450 working hours to complete phase one as voluntary work hours, without the planning and  construction management. It speaks of solidarity of the volunteers, as well as the supportive funders, which no one thought possible. And as we look back, we can say with great joy: We not only have met the requirements, we surpassed them. 
With the commissioning of the new clock  tower, we completed a project phase, which was only possible, because  we had so many supporters. It doesn't matter, how much or in what way they chimed in to help us to lead our project to a successful end, we believe that we can truly say: Phase 1 of our project was a great success.
We were also pleased by the support of some women, who provided us with the necessary tools, like their encouragement and catering variety, to successfully complete this enormous challenge.
In gratitude for the hardworking volunteers, we were able to remember the long way to the completion of the first building phase in almost 900 images during a small festival for the helpers.

A special "Thank you" also to thee contractors for their good and inexpensive workmanship. A great "Thank you" to all those who helped with donations.
We believe that our Lord will be very pleased with the renovation and beautification activities at his home.
Since there will be more necessary restoration work in the future, we are still very dependent on donations. We would be very pleased if you would support our Herforst parish hall financially with a donation.
Spendenkonto bei der Volksbank Bitburg (Donation account at Volksbank Bitburg) 
IBAN: DE59 5866 0101 0006 3003 03,
Vermerk: Renovierung Pfarrkirche Herforst (Note: Renovation Parish Herforst)