Priest becomes Lego master

Jun 20, 2022
Retired priest, Father John McNalis builds a scale model of the new St. Faustina Church building as construction progresses. (COURTESY)


CLERMONT | “Lego Master” is a title retired Father John McNalis never imagined he would land. The former Fire Department and U.S. Air Force chaplain, photographer, and teacher took up the new hobby when construction began January 2022 on St. Faustina Parish in Clermont, where he serves, assisting Father Ramón Bolatete.

Father McNalis’ idea to build a replica of the new church on Boggy Creek Rd., paralleling construction progress, came from his childhood hobby – building model airplanes. “I began with WWII aircraft then moved to 1/72 scale current military aircraft of that time,” he said.

Coupled with his teen Erector Set building experience (brand of metal toy construction sets popular in the mid-1990s), and some guidance from the local Lego store, he chose to take his expertise to a new level, Lego building.

He obtained the construction plans and visits the construction site regularly, sporting his hard hat, making every effort to build the model to scale and match colors as best possible. Working about an hour daily from his dining room table, he tries to keep pace with the actual building’s progress. After finalizing a section, he takes it to the parish and adds it to the scale model at the back of the church.

Parishioners are excited to see the new church and its model counterpart, expected to be complete by the end of 2022.

Staff Report, June 21, 2022