Originally constructed in 1968, St. Philip Neri Church in Linthicum was recently rededicated following extensive interior and exterior renovations – “Restoring God’s House” – completed by Lewis Contractors. When it was built, the parishioners elected to construct both the nave and its adjacent school simultaneously, which did not leave a substantive amount of funds to beautify the worship space to what one sees today when attending weekly services. As Father Michael DeAscanis, Pastor, has said of the times, “Somebody once said (of) the 1970s and ’80s: We put into our houses cathedral ceilings and marble floors; we put into our churches shag carpeting and drop ceilings”. The rededication mass, celebrated by Archbishop William Lori on March 14, 2021, formally honored the newly completed renovation that has transformed worship for the parishioners nearly six decades after the original structure was built.
Father DeAscanis said the church had always been a beautiful space, but with these changes, “It’s kind of refreshing our spirit as a parish. We hope it also kind of refreshes the neighborhood in the sense that we want to be kind of a force for good in the area working with our other local churches.”
Lewis’ work included removing the existing baldachin and replacing it with a carved wooden medallion made in Peru, featuring a painted wooden dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit; removal of the existing stained glass and replacing it with clear glass; infilling of masonry openings; and completely reworking the entry plaza and new doors. All of the walls were repainted, and the pews were refurbished and re-installed in a configuration more typical of newer worship spaces. Perhaps the most striking changes to the nave were the installation of the new white ceramic tile floor—with materials imported from Italy—and the newly renovated ceiling with its painted starry sky invoking the heavens, which was inspired by a visit to the ceiling at St. Augustine Church in Elkridge, MD.
“It is such a privilege to take part in such a complete transformation, especially one that has been so eagerly anticipated by the parish,” said Tyler Tate, P.E., President of Lewis Contractors, “I am just so proud of our Lewis Team and outstanding trade contractors and artisans who have made this transformation possible.”
Further enhancing the finished space is the new metal tabernacle handmade in Spain, adorned with gold, enamel and images of the twelve apostles at its circumference, and the new wood altar topped by marble with its stone mosaic frontals piece, and other new chancel furnishings. The new reredos that creates the visual center of the sanctuary, and which Father DeAscansis refers to as “a work of art in itself”, was made in York, PA, and features niches with statues of Mary and Joseph, topped with fleur-de-lis to signify their purity.
The significantly brighter nave welcomed its first worshippers in time for Christmas services, celebrating the birth of Christ, and a relic of the Church’s patron, Saint St. Philip Neri, has been placed within the altar as a precious relic for today’s congregants and generations to come.
Long known for its work in sacred spaces, Lewis Contractors considers it an honor to have been chosen to complete these transformational changes to a parish originally constructed just a few years after the firm was founded.