CLERMONT | “Lego Master” is not a moniker retired Father John McNalis ever imagined he might possess.
The former Fire Department and U.S. Air Force chaplain, photographer and teacher took up the new hobby when construction began in January 2022 on St. Faustina Parish in Clermont, where he assists 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.
Before Legos, there were Erector sets, which was a brand of metal toy construction sets popular in the mid-1950s. He used his experience with Erector sets and coupled that with some guidance from the local Lego store to embark on his newest hobby — Lego building.
To make every effort to build his model to scale and match colors as best as possible, he obtained the construction plans and visits the construction site regularly, sporting his hard hat. He works about an hour daily from his dining room table as 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.