Local church to renovate exterior to address safety concerns

Ellie Breed

St. Austin Catholic Parish, located on Guadalupe Street across from the University, will undergo a $3,750,000 renovation beginning in spring of 2016 to address safety concerns.

The metal clips that hold the limestone blocks onto the front façade of the church have rusted and expanded, an issue which will eventually cause pieces of stone to fall from the front of the building onto the sidewalk, head pastor Father Charles Kullmann said.

“We needed to address this structural issue more than the cosmetic issues,” Kullmann said. “The church needs to renovate for safety. We certainly don’t want any unsafe conditions on our church campus.” 

Kullmann said  fundraising for the project was successful because of the parish’s dedicated staff and the plainly evident need for renovation.

“Parishioners understood and responded generously,” Kullmann said. “It was a lot of work, but well worth it. Faculty, staff and students of the University, who are members of our parish community, have served on committees such as the Property Committee, the Finance Committee and the fundraising team and supported the effort with their contributions and prayers.” 

Part of the renovation budget will go toward increasing the cosmetic appeal of the main building and bell tower. These aesthetic improvements are practical additions to the safety improvements being made, parishioner Frank Morris said. 

“The hope is that our church will be more attractive,” Morris said. “Some of the cosmetic portions of the renovation are driven by necessity. A small part is elective but wise to undertake while the project is under construction.”

The renovation is also an opportunity to draw more student attention to the church, according to finance senior Allison Young, who is a parishioner.

“As with any construction project, many people will be curious as to what is going on,” Young said. “More people in the Austin community may recognize that the church is there.” 

Kullmann also recognizes the need to increase the presence of the church on Guadalupe Street and in the University community.

“We would like our church building to more boldly proclaim our presence on the Drag, give a more welcoming and positive appearance and add to the attractiveness of our neighborhood,” Kullmann said. “We are a welcoming congregation and want to look like it. Our renovation of our 63-year-old building will not only make it more appealing and attractive but visually assert the dynamism of faith today in this community.”