After 8 years and thousands of hours of volunteer work, the St. Rose of Lima church, outside of Kenyon, Minn. is almost fully restored.
Its leaking shingles have been replaced, its stained glass windows are all re-leaded and its vaulted ceiling has a fresh coat of paint.
"We just tackled it one step at a time," volunteer Jill Palof said. "We started with the roof and went down."
The Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis boarded up the building in 1961, and it sat deteriorating among the farm fields for the next 41 years.
Then, in 2002, Palof and a small group of other volunteers decided to breath new life into the old building.
They knew it would take years to complete, but some parts went faster than expected. The group raised all the money they needed to restore the windows in less than three months.
"Either people were waiting for this day to come, or they are just as entranced by these Windows as the rest of us," Palof said.
It's an ecumenical church now. But on Monday, for the third year running, the Archdiocese has given its blessing for a special Memorial Day mass to be held in the 132-year old structure.
The church sits in a traditionally Lutheran part of Minnesota. Gary Bakko, who was an alter boy at St. Rose before it closed, grew up acutely aware he was a "religious minority."
"Walking in here brings back memories," he said. "It was a little bit freeing to come here, because you didn't have to watch what you said."
There's still more work to be done before St. Rose is fully restored to its former glory. The steeple has to be repaired, and it needs fresh grout between the blocks of its limestone walls.
But it's in remarkable shape for a building that sat forgotten for decades.
"It's built for centuries," Bakko said. "Let's hope many centuries."
(MPR producers Curtis Gilbert and Jeff Jones contributed to this story.)