Crane gets in position to wash steeple at St. John the Baptist Church in Milwaukie.
MILWAUKIE — Workers are power-washing the 210-foot spire of St. John the Baptist Church in preparation of re-finishing the entire roof and bringing it back to its original gleam. The space-age spire is a landmark in the area.
The old coating had deteriorated, allowing dirt and algae to form. The church was built in 1965 and is the first Catholic church in Oregon built to new standards after Vatican II, and replaced the old church built at the turn of the 20th century.
The style of the church reflects the inclusiveness and welcoming atmosphere that the parish is known for.
“We have a very big tent for all who come here,” said Jose Gyanti, pastoral council chair. One of the most frequent questions is why there is not a cross at the top of the spire. The addition of a cross would have required a red light atop it for airplane navigation safety.
LeakSeal Roofing, a local contractor, is doing the work which includes the power washing, a primer, and a silicone coating that is guaranteed for 50 years. The parish began fundraising for the project in August of 2013 and has raised more than $212,000 which will cover the work plus leave a cushion for future needs.
St. John the Baptist was started as a mission church in 1864 by missionary priests. The original church building was located on the spot where Bernard’s Garage sits today. That building was replaced by a church built on the corner of Southeast Monroe and 25th where the Franciscan Spiritual Center is now. St. John’s became an official parish of the Archdiocese of Portland in Western Oregon in 1911 with the newly completed church being blessed by Archbishop Christie in 1912.
The current pastor is Franciscan Father Jorge Hernandez. The parish currently serves about 785 families, including a large Hispanic community.