In 2008, Mike Wolf entered a vast labyrinth of pipes, bellows, blowers, chambers and electrical circuitry and now has emerged something of a hero.

In 2008, Mike Wolf entered a vast labyrinth of pipes, bellows, blowers, chambers and electrical circuitry and now has emerged something of a hero.

On Jan. 29, his three-and-a-half years of hard work rebuilding the historic pipe organ at St. Leo's Roman Catholic Church in Merion Village will culminate in a rededication concert.

"When you have an instrument as valuable as this, if you don't maintain or repair it, you lose it all - the whole thing," Wolf said.

The concert begins at 3 p.m. at the church, 221 Hanford St. Following the blessing of the instrument, Paul Thornock will provide a program of music to showcase its capabilities.

The work was quite an undertaking, said Wolf, who doesn't even know how to play the organ. Of course, he had some help. For example, Gary Gurcich and the Roberts Electric Co. helped with the electrical aspects of the instrument while Andrew McGregor assisted in rewiring the inner organ.

"It's not something I did totally on my own," Wolf said.

First installed in the mid-1920s, the instrument was made by the Tellers-Trent Organ Co. in Erie, Pa. It is an echo, or celestial, organ, meaning it has additional pipes in a housing unit above the altar. Wolf refurbished those, too.

The actual organ console was replaced during the process. All told, the project cost $140,000, not including labor. The instrument is valued at more than $500,000.

The organ has a long history at the church, which was built in 1903 and dedicated in 1917. In March 1983, it saw its first rededication after a restoration project that lasted nearly a year.

Wolf, 67, a retired sheet-metal worker, was named caretaker of the church building when it closed in 1999 and the congregation was consolidated with St. Mary's Catholic Church on South Third Street. He has touched up murals on the ceiling, restored each church pew, replaced floors and replastered walls - whatever needed his attention.

"There's still a lot of work here to do," he said.

It's a labor of love, said Wolf, who was baptized in the church in 1944 and spent most of his life in the Merion Village neighborhood.

"It is my home," he said.

The St. Leo Preservation Society has been steadfast in preserving the building, which is mostly used for weddings and funerals.

"We felt, from the beginning, that we owed it to our forefathers who put every effort and lots of their capital, faith and love of God into this church," said Lori Mitchell, president of the preservation society. "We feel that it is very important to preserve what they built to hand down to us and to those who come after us."