Home News and Features St. Augustine Church 99% Recovered From Flood Damage

St. Augustine Church 99% Recovered From Flood Damage

St. Augustine Church on Barre Street in Montpelier. Photo by Jess Turner.
This is the first in a series of articles examining the current status of Montpelier churches that were impacted by the flood last July.

St. Augustine Church on Barre Street in Montpelier experienced serious damage from last summer’s flood, with floodwaters entering the parish hall in the church basement, destroying its kitchen, and also flooding the rectory basement next door (where equipment to maintain the Catholic cemetery off of Lincoln Avenue, appliances, records, and other valuable items were stored).

But thanks to the hard work of parishioners and self-insurance through the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, St. Augustine is now “99% back in operation,” according to Rev. Patrick Forman, pastor at St. Augustine as well as at St. Monica Church in Barre. The one thing not repaired yet is an elevator lift to make the parish hall handicapped accessible from the church’s worship space, which was not flooded.

“Our kitchen is fully refurbished and the mold issues are resolved,” Forman told The Bridge in mid-April. “We are having our first reception there tonight, and we hope to start offering community lunches on Fridays again soon.”

St. Augustine is one of five downtown churches that historically took turns offering weekday community lunches to anyone who needed or wanted to partake. Since the flood, the meals have been offered at the Christ Episcopal Church, the only of the five churches with a functioning kitchen after the flood, with volunteers from other downtown churches helping to prepare and serve food. Before the flood, St. Augustine also provided Wednesday night dinners to shelter occupants in need of food, Forman said, a practice that may also be revived.

Forman did not have an exact dollar total for the flood repair work, but said it probably cost $400,000 to $500,000, in large part paid for by their self-insurance. The work at the church included cleanup, electrical and plumbing work, the kitchen repair, and some upgrades to the physical plant, including asbestos remediation. At the rectory, which houses offices and rooms for occasional guests, the garage doors have been replaced and the washer and dryer moved upstairs, Forman said.

Earlier, over the summer and fall of 2022, the massive slate roof on St. Augustine was replaced at a cost of $900,000, with donations and bequeaths helping pay for the repair. “We are happy that was finished before the heavy rains that caused the flood,” Forman said. “The roof held perfectly.” St. Augustine was originally constructed during the years 1892 to 1903.

According to Forman, about 200 to 250 people attend mass at St. Augustine each weekend, split between the Saturday evening and Sunday morning masses. Attendance numbers are down from decades ago when there were bigger families in the area, he said, but have leveled off in recent years, though they vary over the course of the year. “We do have some snowbirds,” he noted.

Forman, who started at St. Augustine about a year ago and lives in the St. Monica rectory in Barre, said he was “grateful for so many people who love their church, love their community, love their parish, and are willing to put in time and energy so we can succeed.”