Facilities Connect program prepares parishes for maintaining new and aging churches

November 26, 2019

Father Reginald Samuels, pastor at St. Hyacinth Catholic Church in Deer Park, listens to Quint Foster of Foster Stained Glass explain to Archdiocese’s Preventive Maintenance Manager Deanna Ennis about the faceted stained glass of the Holy Spirit. (Photo by Jo Ann Zuñiga/Herald)

HOUSTON — Preparing for winter or summer storms or continual maintenance of aging churches, parishes have their hands full with the upkeep of their spiritual homes. 

To help pastors, parish administrators and others maintain churches, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston’s Office of Construction and Preventive Maintenance organized a monthly meeting series called “Facilities Connect.”

Preventive Maintenance Manager Deanna Ennis said, “This program is for continuing education and training. It also allows operations and facilities staff to know each other at different parishes.” 

The seminars — open to clergy, parish staff and volunteers responsible for maintaining churches — are held the first week of the month, except during the extremely busy Christmas and Easter seasons. 

“We are not alone. That is part of the beauty of our faith,” she said. “We are inheriting our churches, and we need to take care of them.”

The most recent gatherings focused on “Stained Glass – Preservation, Restoration and Design.” Quint Foster of Foster Stained Glass in Bryan led the sessions at several churches, including St. Hyacinth Catholic Church in Deer Park on Nov. 7.

“Stained glass is an art form that is about 900 years old, and not much has changed in using the traditional hand-cut lead and glass except for the electric tools,” Foster told the group of pastors and facilities managers.

In addition to answering technical questions, he also gave practical advice such as not using Windex or other chemicals to clean stained glass.

“Don’t use house paint to retouch the paintings on the glass. One church actually used black tar trying to seal along the leaded pieces. Please call the experts. Much of the repair can be done little by little to make it more manageable and budget-friendly,” Foster said.

Among those attending the seminar, Father Douglas Guthrie, pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church, said, “I love stained glass. Even if it’s not considered high art, those stained glass windows are dedicated by families with their hard-earned money.” 

In trying to anticipate the various needs of the parishes, Facilities Connect has previously focused on roofing and HVAC maintenance and plumbing restoration.

Ennis said the office is open to suggested future topics. So far, 2020 topics include paving maintenance, exterior and waterproofing systems, fire prevention, electrical systems, and commercial kitchen and Health Department requirements.