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OLM church begins renovation project

Alex Vejar, Staff Writer
9:54 pm PDT July 14, 2014

After 43 years, Our Lady of Malibu is finally getting a renewed look.

Several parishioners gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony at Our Lady of Malibu Church on Friday, July 11, to celebrate the start of a large renovation project.

The project, which is already underway, seeks to make improvements to the church, Sheridan Hall and the elementary school in three phases, said Rev. Bill Kerze, pastor of the OLM parish. 

The Renewal Campaign Committee was established in March to raise the $1.35 million needed to fund the renovations. The committee wrote letters, made phone calls and hosted cocktail parties for parishioners, and have raised almost $1.2 million to date.

“We’re very confident we’ll make the target within the next few weeks,” said Bill Noonan, co-chair of the committee. 

Kerze was moved that he has almost reached the funding goal in such a short time, and said he hopes to exceed it. 

“We have a lot of very, very generous parishioners,” Kerze said. “It’s just touched me very, very deeply how generous they have been.”

The first phase involves updating several aspects of the church, including the installment of a baptismal font, which is a basin-like piece of furniture in which people can be baptized. Other renovations include improving the acoustics inside the church and restoring it to its original architectural style, Kerze said.

Sheridan Hall will be updated during the second phase of the renovation, making the hall more easily accessible to parishioners with disabilities and improving the bathrooms in the building. 

“I want to make it a place of true hospitality,” Kerze said of the hall. “A place that for whoever uses it can easily use it [and] secondly, is easy to maintain.”

The final phase of the project will upgrade the elementary school’s technological infrastructure by adding servers and expanding Internet bandwidth in classrooms, Kerze said. 

Parish manager Peggy Thomas has been involved with the project since its inception — when the plan was only to build the baptismal font and the budget was a more modest $300,000. 

In order to install the font, changes had to made to the steps leading up the altar, and then further modifications, suggested by the archdiocese, had to be made, Thomas said. 

“It’s like when you change your kitchen or something and then all of a sudden, it kind of snowballs,” Thomas said. “A little thing like just the baptismal font turned into a whole huge renovation.”

The second and third phases of the renovation were not part of the original plan, and were added later, Thomas said. 

“We decided that, if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it all at once,” Thomas said. “And if you’re asking people contribute, it’s better to ask once than keep coming back.”

Noonan said that even though much work will go into modernizing the church, the goal is for the house of prayer to keep its “simplicity.” 

“It’s just going to afford a more warming, comforting type of environment to the community,” Noonan said.

Cindy Dorn, a member of the renewal committee who was married in the OLM church 26 years ago, is glad the church is being updated. 

“I’m excited that it’s happening,” Dorn said. “It’s time.”