A new design for the altar and repositioning of the sacristy in St Joseph's Church, Merimbula has made Fr Pale (Paletasala Leota) feel more connected to his congregation, he said.
The previous sacristy, located at the base of the stairs leading to the choir loft, was a small space - just - making it difficult for Fr Pale to put on his vestments, let alone when the Archbishop or an additional priest concelebrated the Mass.
The sacristy committee was formed and architect Chris McInerney provided some sketches based on the idea of bringing the existing sanctuary forward and placing the sacristy behind a curved, slatted timber and gyprock wall.
Not only did the committee agree that this plan was the most cost effective, but it also respected the architecture and design of the era in which the church was first built.
Further sketches by parishioner, Hilaire Albaladejo from Eden, provided the committee with a clearer picture of how the changes would work and the committee enlisted the services of Richie McNeil Design.
In February 2021 a contract was entered into with David Larkins of Bega Valley Construction and work on the renovations began in earnest on September 6.
On Sunday October 10 Fr Pale celebrated the first Mass in the newly renovated church.
The improvements not only provide clergy with a sizeable Sacristy, but the enlarged and improved sanctuary is now a liturgically more connected space with the congregation.
"The new facility brings joy and happiness; it brings the altar closer to the people and is a lot more connected to the people," Fr Pale said.
"This new design brings so much love and vibrancy," Fr Pale added.
Teresa Hamer, chair of the sacristy committee said they wanted the work done locally.
"It's so good to have our own people involved, it's greatly appreciated," she said.
Ms Harmer thanked the many people involved in the construction including David Larkins of Bega Valley Construction, Trubuilt Kitchens, RLN Electrical, GJ Plumbing, Carpet Court, Mitre 10 and North Eden Timber and Zac Strudwick Flooring.