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After multimillion-dollar reconstruction project, St. Michael Church reopens

Stonington — Hundreds of parishioners gathered to see the doors to St. Michael Church open to them for the first time in nearly eight years.

Many who attended the dedication Mass on Saturday for the new church, after the old building closed abruptly in 2012 due to structural problems, have spent decades attending services at St. Michael and have had generations of family members mark ceremonies, such as baptisms and confirmations, there.

Nicholas Lindholm, who grew up attending services at St. Michael, said he came home for the weekend from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, where he goes to college, to be at the dedication ceremony. "This is a good moment for the community. It's nice to see everyone come back together," he said.

Walter Reed, who's attended St. Michael since 1964, said all his kids were baptized here and grew up going to the church. "It's been a long time coming," he said of the reopening.

Many parishioners attended St. Mary Church in Stonington Borough while the reconstruction took place.

The parishioners, bundled up on a cold, cloudy morning, gathered on Liberty Street snapping pictures of the outside of the new church, and cheered and applauded when pastor Rev. Dennis Perkins, who successfully led the reconstruction and fundraising efforts, finally opened the doors just after 10 a.m.

In total, $6.6 million was raised for the project. The church plans to take a $1.5 million mortgage to cover the remainder of the costs.

Even nonparishioners contributed to the project.

Teresa Prue, who's attended St. Michael for 25 years and is a member of the church's Finance Committee, said people would drive by the church, see the work being done and reach out. "It truly is a gift from God," she said.

Suzanne Tedeschi, a parishioner at St. Michael for 50 years, said she appreciated that those involved in the project took care to restore many of the church's historical characteristics.

Guido Petra, owner of Petra Construction Corporation, which was involved in the project, said the original craftspeople would be proud to know that the new church was built upon the original 1861 stone foundation.

"It will be here for many more centuries," Petra said, to applause.

Once inside, parishioners, greeted by the smell of fresh paint and new wood, were in awe of their new church. Many tilted their heads back to look at the restored stained-glass windows and timber trusses supporting the ceiling.

"Just beautiful," one woman in the pews remarked.


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