A facelift for St. Dominic's Catholic Church
After more than six decades of providing a place for its congregation to worship, St. Dominic’s Catholic Church is getting a complete sprucing-up. Its pastor, Father Tom Seabridge, said work is being done from “top to bottom” at the church, located at the corner of East Oak and South Auburn streets.
While Mass has been celebrated in the Colfax area since the mid-1850s, a separate parish wasn’t established here until 1942. St. Dominic’s was blessed by the Bishop of the Diocese of Sacramento in May 1951. The church’s bell, however, is much older. It was erected in 1860 at the Catholic church in Iowa Hill and hung at St. Dominic’s in 1988.
Colfax native Barbara Noxon, 84, has worshipped at St. Dominic’s all of her life. She said while the church has undergone roof replacements, maintenance and small projects, it has never been completely refurbished. “It’s never been really done like it is now, inside and out,” she said. “The classrooms, hall, rectory and church are all getting a much-needed facelift.”
Other than the installation of the stained glass windows over the altar in the 1970s, Seabridge said the church looks pretty much as it did when erected.
“What we’re doing now is putting in dual-pane windows, painting top to bottom and installing roofing,” he said. “We’re going to pull up the pews, put in polished colored cement, and re-carpet the whole place.” Everything is getting a new coat of paint, in and out.
A restroom will also be added in the entryway of the church. “For years,” Seabridge said, “people would have to walk down to the parish hall. Bad weather is not good for older people, and we have a lot of children, too.”
Lighting is being upgraded, the parking lot will be resurfaced, and landscaping is being improved under the direction of parishioner and expert gardener Mary Vanstralen, Seabridge said.
According to Seabridge, the entire project will come to about $250,000, funded entirely by parishioners. They have been “very frugal since 1951 and saved enough money to be able to do this project,” he said. “They’ve been talking about it for 10 years, but hadn’t done anything about it.”
The improvement project is also being made possible by parishioners such as Larry Logan, of Larry Logan Roofing in Colfax. “He’s making no profit off this … We pay for the materials and the labor, the rest is the gift,” Seabridge said. The same is true for the windows, provided by Wayne Carter at Colfax Glass. Also working on the project is carpenter George Porter.
Seabridge, 64, came to Colfax in July 2011 from Amador County where he ministered to six churches in three parishes for a decade and where he had a staff of 8 or 9 people.
Here, his staff includes bookkeeper Karen Winter and Bob Socik, who is in charge of religious education.
Preceding Seabridge as St. Dominic’s pastor was Father Ambrose Ugwuegbu and Father Bill Kinanae, who each served the congregation for three years, and Father Dermot Dwyer, the pastor there for 12 years until his death in 2005.
Seabridge considers his appointment to Colfax “kind of my reward,” because he no longer has the challenge of traveling 2,000 miles a month as he did in his previous assignment. It’s much quieter in Colfax and Seabridge says he has found St. Dominic’s congregants to be very welcoming, “spiritual people.”
Seabridge said the church always welcomes people “home,” and wants them to know there’s a new pastor and new life at the church.
“We’re refreshing everything,” he said. “We love this community and would love people to come back to church. This is a time when people really need some spiritual direction and grace in their lives.”
Beyond Mass, which is celebrated at 8 a.m. weekdays, 8 and 10 a.m. Sundays and at 5 p.m. Saturdays, the church offers religious instruction for adults at 9 a.m. and for children at 3:45 p.m. on Wednesdays.
The church’s outreach includes contributions to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, to help out with utility bills, rent, food, gas and heat for people in need.
“Locally, within our own particular church community, we have what we call our white envelope program that takes care of our own people,” Seabridge said. “Any of our parishioners who come to church and are in financial trouble can come to me in private.” Food baskets are also distributed at Thanksgiving and Christmas.