apse-window-shatteredAbove: A project to repair the broken apse glass over the stained glass skylight is estimated at $15,000.
: A computer rendering by Creative Lighting Design & Engineering showcases the Basilica of St. Josaphat’s proposed exterior lighting project, a $115,000 project to include work done to the portico, bell tower, pediments and window lighting, and is part of the Basilica of St. Josaphat Foundation’s “Lighting the Way” campaign. (Submitted photos courtesy St. Josaphat Basilica Foundation)
The Basilica of St. Josaphat Foundation completed a $175,000 project that upgraded the basilica’s interior lighting – of which more than 30 percent wasn’t functioning – Dec. 1. While the upgrade is complete, with the exception of getting a new dimmer panel, fundraising continues for the project as it isn’t fully funded.

The project to upgrade the almost 20-year-old lighting is one of several that comprise “Today and Tomorrow: Lighting the Way,” a $700,000 campaign that the foundation launched Oct. 2 to raise money for repairing and preserving the only basilica in Milwaukee, located at 2333 S. Sixth St.

A Nov. 9 press release from the foundation updated the total amount needed for repairs to the basilica to $985,000, which includes $300,000 for the Annual Fund.

Susan Rabe, executive director of the Basilica of St. Josaphat Foundation established in 1991 to “preserve, restore and enhance the basilica,” told your Catholic Herald in an email Dec. 12 that the next project will be an exterior masonry inspection. 

“This one is critical because we have postponed it for the cupola repair,” Rabe said. “When we had an inspection over a year ago, there was $500,000 of recommended repairs and restoration.”

afterRepair to the cupola atop the dome – a $90,000 project that began in September to repair a leak that included replacing windows, flashing, sills and jambs – was completed in November, according to Rabe.

“The good news is the project went according to plan; no surprises and no cost overruns,” she said in an email, noting that the interior lighting project went $30,000 over the $145,000 estimate.

“The Basilica Foundation is connecting with the community to increase awareness of this important historical landmark,” Rabe said in the release. “It is our hope that as the many visitors and community (members) see the work we are doing, they will be moved to support.”

The foundation received a $50,000 grant from the Wisconsin Energy Foundation, with half to be paid in January 2012 and half in January 2013, and raised about $65,000 toward the interior lighting project, according to Rabe.

Rabe said that the foundation held an informational session for the parish and spent October reaching out to the foundation’s donor base with events for business executives, tours of the basilica and a gala to help with fundraising for the projects. She also said that about 125 people attended the Nov. 21 open house – complete with tours led by Milwaukee historian and author John Gurda, music by the Basilica Choir and gold leafing demonstrations by basilica artist Andy DeWeerdt – that was held that night for guests who wanted to explore the basilica’s new history exhibit, learn about the campaign and see progress made on the interior lighting project. Many of the people were Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra patrons who heard about the open house when it was promoted at concerts.

More Info

For more information or to donate to the Basilica of
St. Josaphat Foundation’s “Today and Tomorrow: Lighting the Way” campaign, call (414) 902-3524, email 
or visit the website.

Follow the progress of projects through photos and updates posted on the foundation’s Facebook page.

“That’s exactly what we’re trying to do is reach broader, and it really does drive home that the basilica’s serving the community at large,” Rabe said.

Rabe told your Catholic Herald that the following list of repairs with their projected costs, which can be found on the  foundation’s website, www.thebasilicafoundation.org/projects.html, is itemized in the order in which they need to be addressed:

  • Portico, bell tower, pediments and window lighting – $115,000;
  • Apse glass repair – $15,000;
  • Masonry ledge repair – $5,000;
  • Stairwell stained glass windows – $150,000;
  • Pavilion stained glass windows – $15,000;
  • Sound system – $50,000

By spring work will continue on the exterior masonry and decorative ledges, which was postponed because the cupola needed immediate attention.

The foundation’s goal is to finish the outside lighting project by the end of next year, but fundraising will play a large role in how fast the entire list of repairs is made, according to Rabe.

“The sooner we can raise the funds, the sooner we can get this project done,” she said.