St. Jude Church in Lewes celebrates its ‘extreme makeover’


Staff reporter

LEWES – The folks from the ABC television show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” were in Sussex County a few months ago, building a new home and soup kitchen for a national audience.

A few miles away, St. Jude the Apostle Church was undergoing an extreme makeover of its own, and last weekend, parishioners gathered for a look at the final result.

The church was closed last January for the first phase of work: new ceiling tiles; staining of woodwork, including the crucifix and sanctuary furniture; paint in the sanctuary; carpet; sound system; music boards; refurbishing of the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph statues; new lights on the altar; Venetian plaster added to the shrine of St. Jude; new side doors; and renovation of the bathrooms.

It was reopened three months later, in time for the summer tourist season. Renovations continued throughout the summer.

Bishop Malooly blessed the renovated St. Jude the Apostle Church in Lewes during a Nov. 19 Mass. (Chuck Snyder)

Father James Hreha, the pastor, said parishioners showed great patience as the work progressed.

“One Sunday, for example, we had to have scaffolding on the back wall. We’ve had minor inconveniences, but the people have been magnificent,” he said.

He said for church members, it was sort of a game to come in and try to see what had been done since their last visit.

“It was almost hide and go seek as far as finding what the next stage would be,” he said.

The second phase, according to parish communication director Nancy Seaver, included installation of a Eucharistic wood carving from Italy, moving of the St. Joseph statue to establish a unified Holy Family, and addition of Venetian plaster to the back wall.

Father Hreha said much of the work was cosmetic, but needed to be done.

“I had duct tape holding together carpeting in some places,” he said.

The reconciliation room also got a complete makeover, he said, “because that was the old baptistery of the church.” The parish had been working with a temporary configuration in that room for years.

Father Hreha estimated the total cost of the renovations at $325,000. The cost was covered by one generous benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous, he said.