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20131025 OLG-dome-1 featureParishioners at Our Lady of Guadalupe will have much to be thankful this holiday season because Father Roy Snipes expects the congregation to move into its newly renovated worship hall by

Contractors erected the church’s dome and cross, which had been down for several months, on Saturday.

“We’ve restored the beautiful skyline of old south Mission,” said Father Roy Snipes.

Built in 1927, the dome and the church have undergone a more than $2 million expansion and renovation that began in May 2012. Over the years, the church, with a 500-person capacity had become too small to hold the area’s growing population and the dome wasn’t expected to make it through a hurricane. The construction project entailed expanding the eastern and western sides of the worship hall out by 30 feet and rebuilding the dome.

There’s a lot of sentimental attachment to the church. Snipes himself was ordained there 33 years ago, and many residents have celebrated marriages within the hall or mourned the loss of loved ones.

The dome itself is a landmark for those looking for the church and can be seen from the expressway.

“It’s a great day in the neighborhood to see the old skyline looking like always,” Snipes said.

Snipes said he’d hoped to have the dome removed at night and the new one replaced by the next morning, “so we never see the light hit the church without the dome,” but the contractor told him that wasn’t likely. The process was expected to take six to seven months.

20131025 OLG-domeThe new dome is made of fiberglass, and Snipes expects it’ll last much longer than he’ll live. Snipes said the tower was the last big complication in the church expansion. Now, he said there are smaller projects that need to be wrapped up, and that should be done in a matter of weeks.

In the meantime, the church has been holding Mass in the parish hall, which has more seating, room for about 600-700, than the old church did. The expanded worship hall will seat up to 1,000.

“We’ll probably miss the hall a little bit, but it’s made us appreciate the church more,” Snipes said. “We’re like the jews in the Babylonian exile.”

He said he ran into opposition when renovating the church first came up because people wanted to be sure the historic building was preserved.

“But people are so good. Some people just felt like, ‘It’s the Old Guadalupe, you can’t touch anything.’ But I said, ‘we’ve got to touch something or it’s going to fall apart,’” Snipes said.

“I think we’re going to be happy. It’s good for another 86 years at least.”

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