St. Mary Parish in Ridgefield reopens with a new look

Photo of Alyssa Seidman

RIDGEFIELD — The congregation of St. Mary Parish resumed worship inside the church last month for the first time in nearly two years.

The church underwent a series of interior and exterior renovations, which precluded Mass from being held inside. The town approved the plans last March, but the pandemic slowed construction efforts.

Nearly all the improvements have since been completed, Monsignor Kevin Royal said, allowing St. Mary to welcome parishioners back into the building. While COVID led Mass attendance to dwindle, Royal believes the reopening will lead more people to return.

The church resumed its regular Mass schedule at full capacity the weekend of Nov. 13. Parishioners and visitors are not required to wear masks.

“It seemed the singing was louder, the prayers were louder and more energetic,” Royal said. “The renewed spirit that (we’ve seen and heard) from parishioners and visitors (is) such a beautiful thing.”

The improvements comprised a number of “aesthetic additions,” Royal said, including new Stations of the Cross. St. Mary acquired the pieces from a Catholic church in Belgium that closed, and each station features a painted canvas image contained in wood frame.

The high wall behind the tabernacle has been repainted in shades of blue to help the white marble altar “stand out,” Royal said. The interior walls now include pops of color to make the ambiance “a bit more vibrant,” he added, and the 125-year-old Tiffany windows on the back wall behind the altar were taken out, cleaned and stabilized.

The building underwent heating, electrical and structural upgrades. A newly constructed gathering space, dubbed Holy Family Hall, was attached to the church’s southeast side. It will host hospitality after Mass, meetings, talks and video presentations, and eventually serve as St. Mary’s baptistery.

Clergy members hosted an advent prayer service in the hall prior to Ridgefield’s Holiday Stroll on Friday night, which Royal called “a nice little use of the new construction.”

The parish is still moving its perpetual adoration chapel from its school building on High Ridge Avenue into the church’s former sacristy in the rear of the building. Two new confessional rooms and eight stained-glass windows, each with a Eucharistic theme, will be added there.

Royal hopes to have the chapel open by the new year.