ISLESBORO---Thanks to the help of inspired congregants and staff at St. Brendan the Navigator Parish in Camden, St. Mary of the Isles Church in Islesboro now has a new steeple.
“Steeples represent an important part of the history and culture of most small towns in Maine,” said Karol Skoby, business coordinator at St. Brendan the Navigator Parish. “But few architectural elements are more exposed to threats than steeples.”
The damage that can be caused by wind, moisture, lightning, age, and deferred maintenance can require considerable funds for repair.
In 2007, the Maine Steeples Fund was established to support local efforts to restore church steeples of historic, cultural, and community significance in small cities and towns in Maine.
“The fund offers assessment grants and restoration grants,” said Ruth Demers of Maine Steeples Fund. “As long as you are a nonprofit entity or municipality, you can apply for funds.”
With the help of Karol and Art Govoni, the caretaker and project coordinator, congregants Lila White and Lee and Diane Fentress applied for a grant from the Maine Steeples Fund, submitting a description of the work to be done and a history of St. Mary of the Isles, which hosted its first Mass in 1901. The group then worked with an assessor to determine the scope and estimated cost of the restoration. The Maine Steeples Fund matches funds raised by the applicant.
“Ultimately, St. Mary received a $28,000 grant,” said Skoby. “The balance of the cost of repairs was underwritten by private donations.”
The work was extensive as the steeple needed reconstruction from the belfry up. The cross was still in good condition but received a re-framing. The work was done by DICON, the restoration and construction company of the Diocese of Portland which maintains and enhances over 400 structures in Maine.
St. Mary of the Isles Church, located on Pendleton Point Road, will reopen on July 3 for Masses on Saturdays at 9 a.m.