Nikki Lansford
Editorial Assistant

The once white ceiling of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, 309 Benton Blvd., is now filled with historic meaning after the sanctuary’s ceiling became a canvas for colorful, decorative painting.

The renovation is all part of the church’s preparation for its centennial celebration, set to occur in 2022. The repainting of the sanctuary was the second phase of the renovation. In the third phase, the church will have new floors put in, along with refinishing the pews.

The repainting in the sanctuary was the first major renovation to happen to the church since 1967, Rev. Andres Moreno said. After five months of work, it was completed just in time for the church to have its first service on Christmas Day 2020 inside the new sanctuary.

“It was like a great Christmas present from God to the Perish and the community,” Moreno said.

He added that it was nice to have the sanctuary back because during those five months of renovation, Mass had to be held in the church’s gym.
The church hired Touch of Distinction Color and Design to curate the new interior and Linstrom Paint Pro to take on the painstaking task of painting.

“They wanted their church to look beautiful again and a little bit more historical according to when the church would have been built,” said Paul Helmer, decorative artist and architectural designer with Touch of Distinction Color and Design.

Helmer, who had actually done some decorative work in the church over 20 years ago, said he was asked by Moreno to help redesign the sanctuary’s ceiling with the goal of making it look period appropriate.

“Probably the greatest influence on the design was painting the shape of the building,” Helmer said.

Not only did the shape of the ceiling remind Helmer of a cross, but so did vents on the ceiling that allow heat to flow into the attic in the winter. So, Helmer said, they played into the natural design of the building and painted a cross as the main focal point of the ceiling.

In addition to the cross design, another key feature of the renovation were different size gold stars that were made out of canvas and glued to the ceiling. The largest star has seven points in reference to the seven days of creation, Helmer said.

“The stars represent the people,” Moreno said. “In the main part of the altar… we see the three stars that represent the Holy Trinity and then there are the other stars that are the 12 apostles. From there to the rest of the church, we see the other stars as the congregation.”

For coloring, Helmer said they settled on rich colors that would make the antique cream and gold altars at the front of the sanctuary stand out. The blue, violet and purple colors chosen also highlighted the ceiling’s plasterwork and fit with the historical design the church wanted.

The ceiling of St. Anthony’s sanctuary is not the only aspect of the church that is getting a makeover. In the following weeks, the church is set to break ground on a new prayer garden, which will be located on the south side of the church.

Moreno said the idea for the prayer garden came to him after he saw similar spaces at churches in other inner city areas around the country. He saw the great impact it had on a church he visited in Chicago, therefore he wanted to bring it to his own in Kansas City.

For the design, the key element to the garden is the patio, which will be built out of bricks in the shape of a cross. People of the congregation could pay to have a brick engraved with the name of a loved one or a special date.
In the very center of the cross will be a fountain with three levels, Moreno said. The top of the fountain will have an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Every aspect of the prayer garden is being constructed by church members, Moreno said. An architect from the church community helped design the garden, and members of the church are chipping in to put it together.

“I expect that people sit down on a bench there and pray, or sit down there and just look at the fountain and make good memories about the people whose names are engraved there,” Moreno said.

He expects the garden to be finished about two weeks after construction begins.