“Whoa!” Brick by brick in the Diocese of Madison.

Here is a success story.

In the little town of Fennimore, WI, Fr. Miguel Galvez of the Society of Jesus the Priest, implemented a restoration of the St. Mary Church.

Before:

After:

There is an article about this church and the consecration of the altar in the diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Herald.  This is how it begins…

 “Whoa!”

That was the simple word of exclamation uttered by a young girl as she entered St. Mary Church in Fennimore on a recent Sunday morning.

While the words used by others in the church may have been more sophisticated that day, the feelings were more than likely similar to those of the young girl’s.

Upon entering the church that Sunday morning, parishioners and visitors got a chance to see the completed work of a restoration project to bring the church back to its original design from more than a century ago.

[…]

The reaction of the girl speaks volumes.

She reacted to the church’s interior as one will when you don’t have baggage from the halcyon days of post-Conciliar chaos and iconoclasm.  This is the reaction of a soul that is open to what a church ought to communicate: a sense of the transcendent, through beauty, rational design, theological and liturgical coherence.

It can be done, brick by brick.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Brick by Brick, Just Too Cool, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

68 Responses to “Whoa!” Brick by brick in the Diocese of Madison.

  1. Michael says:

    I’m happy to say I was able to donate to this restoration! Not in arrogance, but merely as a “Thank God I was able to help somehow” to reverse the iconoclasm of the present day.

  2. mamajen says:

    Gorgeous! I know I shouldn’t, but when I find myself in a plain (and/or modern) church, I tend to drift off daydreaming about such transformations. I hope that someday I’ll have the time and resources to help projects like this happen.

  3. wmeyer says:

    This is the reaction of a soul that is open to what a church ought to communicate: a sense of the transcendent, through beauty, rational design, theological and liturgical coherence.

    This is the essential point missed by those who think we are too critical. It applies equally to the physical structure, the liturgy, and the music. Reverence begins when the soul recognizes it has entered the house of God.

  4. Rellis says:

    This is beautiful. If it never changed from here, it would be better than 95% of parishes in the country.

    However, one nitpick: there’s both a high altar (wide enough to celebrate Mass ad orientem, from the looks of it) AND a free-standing altar. One might think that the latter is just a temporary impediment, gone in a few years. But it seems really nice and really expensive–hardly a card table.

    What to do with the free-standing altar will be a challenge going forward.

  5. Gerard Plourde says:

    What a beautiful restoration. I’ve never understood why people thought that changes in the liturgy necessitated complete removal of the existing altar and artwork. I can’t tell from the picture but am wondering if the high altar is built to accommodate the celebration of the EF for this who may desire it. If so, this church is a masterpiece in showing how the fullness and variety of Catholic practice in the Latin Rite can be honored.

  6. RJHighland says:

    What a huge difference, the high altar is gorgeous and the new art work on the ceilings above the altar and highlights at the ceiling in the nave, new stations installed, new side altars and new altar rails also. Marvelous! When that table is no longer part of the renovation we know have come full circle and back were we should be. I have been in so many Catholic Churches where the High Altar was removed and used as a side Altar or just gone from churches built prior to Vatican II. I can’t wait for the reverse to happen when the table is completely removed and only the hight altar remains with the tabernacle high center were it belongs. My hat is off to the priest that organized this and all those that donated and made it possible and Fr. Z for posting it. These kind of posts alway bring me joy and hope for the Church.

  7. Sonshine135 says:

    Alter rails! Stations! Beautiful Paintings! Beautifully Carved Wood! Gorgeous! A befitting place for our Lord. Psalm 132 comes to mind: I will give my eyes no sleep, my eyelids no rest, Until I find out a place for Yahweh, A dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob. Let us enter God’s dwelling; let us worship at God’s footstool. Arise, Yahweh, into your resting place; You, and the ark of your strength.

  8. kpoterack says:

    “‘Whoa’ . . . The reaction of the girl speaks volumes.”

    I remember back in the 90’s waiting in a confessional line in what was still a fairly traditional church. Some “hipster” teenagers (if that is what they were called then) – replete with chin beards, baggy shorts, and skateboards wandered in. They gazed at the traditional interior mesmerized and one of them whispered to the other, “Man, I would never swear in a place like this.”

    That said it all to me.

  9. Magpie says:

    Good job. Having said that, the before wasn’t actually too bad – we’ve all seen worse.

  10. Robbie says:

    Beautiful. A real success.

  11. Tom Piatak says:

    May many other churches follow this excellent example.

  12. MikeM221 says:

    I agree that it would be even better if there was no freestanding altar, but I must say that it is one of the most beautiful freestanding altars I have seen. If you have not looked at the close-up pictures of it, you must see the hand-carved image of the Last Supper.
    https://plus.google.com/photos/+StMaryFennimoreOrg/albums/5905306540541615777/5970266390498085026?pid=5970266390498085026&oid=104704426106454120131

  13. janicethemenace59 says:

    Whoa is right. A renovated church like this was my coming home moment after 30 years away from the church. I continue to be amazed with each season the interior of the church compels me to be away from the world and to focus on the worship that is the mass.
    http://www.salemcatholic.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/triduum-through-divine-mercy-sunday-2011-068.jpg

    Peace to you all.

  14. BLB Oregon says:

    I wish the poor people who had seen those things leave the sanctuary had all lived to see the day they were restored. I only hope they were brought back from storage: that is, that the parish did not have to have to find someone capable of fashioning such fine work all over again. I cannot imagine how much more expensive that would be.

  15. Father G says:

    Beautiful, except the altar railing looks incomplete.

  16. teechrlady says:

    I was thinking along the lines of Magpie. The before was prettier than many churches I’ve seen. The after is really beautiful though.

  17. anamaria says:

    But, wouldn´t it have been better to give all that money to the poor? Just like Pope Francis wants?…
    JUST KIDDING! It´s just a little “pestering” done by his sister!! Sorry, bro, I couldn´t help it! Just like when we were kids!
    Father Miguel´s sister here in Spain, watching proudly the results of his work… I mean God´s work :)

  18. Mike says:

    Thank you for the photos, Fr. Z. It looks like a house of God again.

    Agreed with others on the incomplete altar rail. Would a Benjamin or so help it the rest of the way along?

  19. MarkJ says:

    I would love to see a “Before Destruction” picture.

  20. jlduskey says:

    I checked the bulletin of St. Mary-St. Lawrence O’Toole-St. John Nepomuk parish cluster and found no reference to the Society of Jesus as mentioned about the pastor, Fr. Miguel Galvez. This did not surprise me. The Jesuits had been present in nearby Prairie du Chien for about 150 years, up until two years ago (they were withdrawn due to a lack of available personnel), and I did not expect their return to southwest Wisconsin so soon.
    Also noteworthy is the fact that Fr. Galvez covers all three parishes. He says a 9:15 am Sunday Mass at St. Lawrence and a Saturday 7pm Mass at St. John’s. His schedule at Fennimore is Saturday at 4pm and Sunday at 8am and 11am. So it seems that every minute of his time is already scheduled on Saturday and Sunday. Obviously a Latin Tridentine mass would be desirable, but it would be difficult to fit it into his schedule. Fr. Galvez says an 8:00 am Mass in the ordinary form on weekdays. And he does have a 6:30 a.m. Latin Tridentine Mass on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Fennimore.
    I wouldn’t feel disappointed about the communion rail looking incomplete. There are gates that can close while communion is being distributed and increase the space available to communicants (not unlike the way it is done in Madison). Also, if they feel the need, they can add kneelers on the extreme left side and the extreme right side. But the decision to do that does not seem, from this distance, to be urgent.

  21. acardnal says:

    I wonder what they did with their old crucifix? They should give it to St. Dennis in Madison. They don’t have a crucifix in the sanctuary of the main church where people worship on Sunday – only in their small chapel.

  22. Sword40 says:

    Agree R J Highland.
    The Table is such a distraction to the Mass. (I remember that being said about the tabernacle). Anyway, I hope the Table is not “nailed down” but loose and can be moved out for ad orientem OF or a TLM.

  23. jflare says:

    “Fr. Miguel Galvez of the Society of Jesus the Priest”

    Is that another way of saying he’s a Jesuit? If so, I’m impressed. Perhaps a few of them have become more interested in traditional norms than I might’ve expected. [No. He belongs to the Society of Jesus the Priest, not the Society of Jesus.]
    I too agree with Magpie; I’ve seen MUCH worse in the before category. The end result is wonderful though.
    ..I REALLY need to take some pictures of my parish inside and send them to Fr Z. Our interior was about as good as I’d come across before. It’s even better now.
    ..Much better acoustically too!

    PS. If anyone reading this contributed to our renovation here in Nebraska, we appreciate it!

  24. The Egyptian says:

    if I,m not to late, see more pictures at
    https://plus.google.com/photos/+StMaryFennimoreOrg/albums/5905306540541615777

    this was one heck of a restoration, even improved the sacristy
    beautiful, next bring back the pulpit, a place of authority

  25. mschu528 says:

    Get rid of the table altar and it would be just about perfect.

  26. avecrux says:

    Beautiful.
    This is happening all over… happened in my parish a decade ago:
    http://muralsbyjericho.com/st_marks.shtml

  27. RichR says:

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the obvious:

    Since most renovations have to be approved by the bishop’s chancery, this obviously reflects highly on the Ordinary and his appointees.

  28. Angie Mcs says:

    The renovation is quite beautiful, giving a sense of warmth and peace. Even the lighting brings a new feeling of quiet harmony as it permeates the whole. I would like to see the altar rail extended a bit or have a gate in the middle which can be opened- then it might look more complete. If the table in front were eliminated ( and it is lovely as well) I hope the panel of The Last Supper would be kept where it can clearly be seen eye when one kneels for Communion. At my church, before I close my eyes, I can see this scene, in which Our Lord tells us to remember Him. I also like the way the Stations of the Cross are now displayed, simply and in harmony with the other architectural accents. I do have a question which I hope someone can help me with- what are those large circles high up on the side walls? I tried to enlarge the pictures but cant tell. They look like huge sun/ moon faces. Is this a design element or do they represent something that can consistently be found in other churches? Perhaps I have missed ours- I am still exploring all the decorations and find new things, especially as I sit in different places!

    I am happy for the parishioners who have such a lovely place to worship. I respect the work and commitment this takes, and congratulate them on this fresh, enhanced statement of our faith. To paraphrase RJHighland, ” This brings me joy and hope for the Church.”

  29. NBW says:

    What a beautiful job!!!

  30. Angie Mcs says:

    Excuse the typo, as I grazed the post button before correcting: I meant to say that I hope The Last Supper would be kept where it could clearly be seen when one kneels for Communion- no “eye” in the sentence.

  31. RichR says:

    P.S. As a singer in a schola, I just noticed the carpet having been pulled up to make way for granite floors. The acoustics must be heavenly..

  32. Wiktor says:

    Angie Mcs: look closer. There *is* a gate (opened on the photo). And the altar rail couldn’t be extended sideways because of side altars.

  33. mburn16 says:

    “And the altar rail couldn’t be extended sideways because of side altars.”

    I don’t know why side altars would prevent the extension of an altar rail. I went through and looked at some of the pictures of the older churches around Detroit (where I am), and they’ve all got altar rails that extend in front of side altars. There’s really not much need for a layperson to approach a side altar, and a Priest saying mass on a side altar does not, I assume, need that much room to move around.

    I agree. Its a beautiful restoration (I, personally, am not yet sold on going exclusively AO, so I don’t object to the central altar) – but the altar rails should all the way from side to side.

  34. Katherine says:

    Quite a nice church. Much better than the new church built in nearby Highland, Wisc.

    Now for the sobering part. Fennimore, Highland and other places, there is a bit of a race to renovate churches. The truth is that the three church cluster isn’t going to last much longer and it is the better church that has the best chance of not being closed.

    Things are pretty grim in the Diocese of Madison. The number (number, not percentage) has declined 11% in the last decade while the population has grown 14%. The decline has been overwhelming and not where some might expect — rural and blue collar urban Catholics have fled the Church. Only a minority of Hispanics are Catholic. There is some stability among well educated, successful people but not much growth.

    Among Protestant denominations, it has been the American Baptists (semi-liberal), United Methodist, (+14) Unitarian (+35%), Morman (+115%) and Evangelical Free Church (+203% – in my girlhood, this was a mostly Swedish-American Pietist denomination that has now remade itself successfully into a megachurch federation).

    The socially conservative Lutheran Church – Kissouri Synod has also declined 12%. The Presbyterians and Congregationalists are about in the same boat.

    The Catholic parishes in the better part of the city of Madison and the suburbs are doing okay. The rural parishes cannot be saved and the churches in blue collar neighborhoods are right behind.

    What is behind all of this, better minds than me will have to explain.

  35. Gemma says:

    Beautiful! I love this order of priests. Wherever they go they spread beauty.

  36. friarpark says:

    This. Is. Fantastic.

  37. A restoration, not a wreckovation! Huzzah!

    People said ‘whoa!’ in the same way when they first came into our renovated church, which really is very pretty and Catholic now, without being over-fussy.

    It can be done! It must be done. It will be done.

  38. PS I note with approval that the comfy chairs have been banished from the sanctuary.

    Perhaps they’re on loan to the Spanish Inquisition?

  39. frjim4321 says:

    I would concede that it is an improvement although “before” was rather hideous and a lot of things would be an improvement.

    I’m not really a fan of reservation on the center axis because I find it to be a distraction to the litrugy itself. However I am a fan of a worthy reservation area.

    There’s a lot more gingerbread than I would like in a church, but it seems to be quality workmanship.

    I could do without the barrier between the assembly and the altar.

  40. Uxixu says:

    @Wiktor my parish (built in 1960) has a marble altar rail that extends in front of both side altars (which still have their tabernacles). The left altar has St Joseph and the right side altar has the Blessed Virgin. The only thing they did was apparently take the gates off. The sanctuary is carpeted, though, while the rest of the Church is marble, and imagine that was added since. It does have a “table altar” which looks like it must weigh a ton with about 5-6 foot gap in between the tabernacle which is surrounded by a large marble arch (which looks like it could have fit a nice big high altar once upon a time) with a beautiful huge painted crucifix above it. I didn’t think there was enough space for ad orientem to the table altar but my last rosary last Saturday I noticed maybe 3-4 feet in between the altar and the top step which sould probably be enough for ad orientem actually (considering the little EF parish I visit has probably less room than that). Another thing I’ve noticed in comparison to the EF parish I visit is my home parish statues are white while the EF parish has them painted

    I should go to the parish office and ask if there are any old pictures or the like that I could see. I can only imagine it with the proper altar coverings and the 6 candle sticks atop it, if not a tabernacle veil as well.

    @frjim, you must be yanking our chains and trolling us, no? You consider altar rails a ‘barrier?’

  41. Uxixu says:

    Though I suppose they ARE a barrier, though I guess I would consider trolling the implication that it’s improper to keep the laity out of the sanctuary when that’s obviously not a tenet (m)any who appreciate the Usus Antiquior around here are going to appreciate.

  42. jflare says:

    Um, frjim, what do you mean by “reservation on the center axis” or “gingerbread”?

    You’ve lost me entirely on these thoughts, I’m afraid.

  43. Rachel K says:

    MikeM221 thanks for the link to the close up of the Altar carving. It highlights to me the importance of the quality of materials, which makes a huge difference to the outcome. I think that is the biggest differnce between the two photos. The first is not as disastrous as some other churches, but the solidness and beauty of the wood in the after photo is striking. And the decoration ( is it paint and plaster? It seems to have a texture.) makes such a difference to that stark, white canvas which makes a church feel like a hospital morgue.

    frjim4321, you are funny! I laughed at your comment about the barriers, you know they are altar rails, I think you are teasing us! ;-)

    I am fortunate to live in a parish with a Pugin church and although they rough it up a bit with wacky banners and drapey stuff at Easter and other times, they have not managed to ruin it because it is listed! In other words, it is against the law to alter the structure of the interior ( and the exterior).
    The building served as the cathedral for the diocese (Shrewsbury) for a period of time, so it is big.
    There is a lady altar, S Joseph’s altar and some lovely painting with gold highlights. We have a huge rood screen and a 15th (yes, that old!) century German crucifix with Our Lady and St John. I think Pugin acquired this from a church in Germany. The high altar remains but we have in front of the rood screen a small square altar on an extensive “platform” ( sanctuary?)
    You can see a photo on Flickr:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/kevinsalt/2453249667/in/photostream/
    Please excuse the silly white “curtain” over the screen, that’s the type of thing I meant when I said they rough it up a bit.
    It also has a fine organ which is older than the building, being taken from the parish church in the town and reinstated here. That is listed too, but not kept in good repair.

    I love I the photo above and do. I don’t see any problem having a altar which can be accessed both directions. It is permissible after all, to offer Mass in both orientations. So, I wouldn’t waste energy on that one.

  44. Rachel K says:

    Doesn’t St. Peter’s have a high altar which can be used either way?

  45. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:

    I’m not really a fan of reservation on the center axis because I find it to be a distraction to the litrugy itself. However I am a fan of a worthy reservation area.

    My experience is the opposite–that moving the Sacrament off the center axis is a distraction because there are two different sight lines.

  46. Kerry says:

    Hello JaniceMenace. We agree with you about St. Mary’s, Salem. We’re go to Sts. Peter & Paul, Dimock. http://saintspeterandpauldimock.blogspot.com/ Might I recommend this, in Hoven, SD. http://www.hovensd.com/St_Anthonys.htm
    Whoooa!

  47. Pax--tecum says:

    Wow, that’s an improvement. Lovely! “Sanctuarium tuum, Domine, quod firmaverunt manus tuae.” (Exod. 15:17)

    frjim4321 said:
    “I could do without the barrier between the assembly and the altar.”

    Although I do normally not agree with you, I too think that the barrier between the people and the altar should be removed, because the table between the altar and the altar rails obstructs the people’s view on the altar. It thereby prevents the people from active participation at Mass. ;-)

  48. Magash says:

    How sad is it that I would be satisfied with a church that looks as good as the before picture? Don’t get me wrong. The parish I belong to has a wonderful reverent priest and one of the most active catechetical and evangelization programs I’ve ever seen. Physical plant? Not so much. Typical 1980’s warehouse/theater floorplan. So yes I’d take the before if that was all I could get. The after would make me think that the second coming was imminent.

  49. jhayes says:

    It would be interesting to know if the reproduction high altar is consecrated for use as an altar

    This seems to be a photo of Bishop Morlino consecrating the free-standing altar as the main altar in the church.

    HERE

    The GIRM says that the tabernacle should not be placed on an altar on which Mass is celebrated

    315. It is more appropriate as a sign that on an altar on which Mass is celebrated there not be a tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved.[127]

    Consequently, it is preferable that the tabernacle be located, according to the judgment of the Diocesan Bishop:

    a) either in the sanctuary, apart from the altar of celebration, in a appropriate form and place, not excluding its being positioned on an old altar no longer used for celebration (cf. no. 303);

    b) or even in some chapel suitable for the private adoration and prayer of the faithful[128] and organically connected to the church and readily noticeable by the Christian faithful.

    The tabernacle itself is supposed to be blessed (314)

    [In almost all cases, the tabernacles were not “on” the high, main altars, they were behind. So, this doesn’t impress me very much.]

  50. jhayes says:

    Beautiful, except the altar railing looks incomplete.

    I wonder if the omission of the rail in front of the side altars is for use by people who stand to receive. It can be a long reach for the priest standing behind an altar rail with a kneeler in front of it.

  51. Makemeaspark says:

    Thank you Fr. Z for posting this, and MikeM221 for adding the link to the restoration. I could just weep, as i went through the photos of the restoration. The LOVE and care that went into this! It reminds me of pondering the building of the great Gothic Cathedrals in Europe in my architectural studies, many taking centuries to build and decorate. It always struck me that a carver would work his entire life on a section and never see the final result in those days.

    I pray that the workers here can visit this often and show their families for generations to come this expression of the love of God they helped create!

  52. robtbrown says:

    jflare says:
    Um, frjim, what do you mean by “reservation on the center axis” or “gingerbread”?

    FrJim prefers the structures that have produced few vocations and lots of divorces.

  53. Elizium23 says:

    Hey guys, can’t the EF be offered at a freestanding altar as well? OF ad orientem as well? Wasn’t the intent of the reform that an altar could be incensed properly by walking around it? This altar is gorgeous and worthy of all worship actions. I don’t know if there is a special preference involved in using a high altar, that’s just my ignorance showing. But thanks be to God that there are choices now! I am pro-choice when the choices include reverent liturgy!

  54. Hans says:

    It’s lovely. Then again, it’s not too different from what I see nearly every day.
    http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2838/11547085274_ba655a4bca_z.jpg

    I have to say that I agree with robtbrown about tabernacles on non-central axes being a distraction. In my limited experience with those cases where it’s in a separate chapel, that’s downright disruptive during Mass; I’ve never seen that handled well.

  55. acardnal says:

    jhayes wrote, “I wonder if the omission of the rail in front of the side altars is for use by people who stand to receive. It can be a long reach for the priest standing behind an altar rail with a kneeler in front of it.”

    “. . . a long reach. . . .” No, not really.

    Sometimes, an opening or gates are placed on the sides so that the people can pray in front of the side altars. . . especially if there are devotional candles present. (I don’t see any in the recent photos above but they may be planned to arrive at a later date.)

  56. Sonshine135 says:

    @Elizium23
    “Hey guys, can’t the EF be offered at a freestanding altar as well? OF ad orientem as well?”

    Yes it can. It happens in my Diocese all of the time in the Parish that offers the Mass in both forms. The alter need only have enough room in front as well as to the rear. The positioning of the tabernacle also does not have to be on the center of the wall. It could technically be offset and I think you could still perform an EF Mass. A chapel in another part of the church outside the vicinity of the altar probably would not work well though. The Priest is not supposed to leave the altar after he ascends the stairs.

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  58. Kindspirit says:

    I guess if you think the Church is a museum piece set in time, this is fine. However, I think the Church is a living, growing, and therefore changing organism/Faith Community. [?!?] If you really
    want to be faithful to the earliest Church you should be promoting “house” churches as they
    had in the first three centuries. [?!?] Apparently some people’s Faith celebration is also rooted in some medieval time with all its trappings. If you accept Vatican II and its documents on Liturgy and on the Church……….and on the Laity…….maybe our architecture needs to reflect those same documents. Certainly the architecture that is pre=Vatican II does not reflect these documents.

    [This was silly.]

  59. jflare says:

    “Apparently some people’s Faith celebration is also rooted in some medieval time with all its trappings.”

    I will counter that such a statement depends a great deal on your point of view, Kindspirit.
    I recall a few years ago, attending Mass at my parents’ church. Keeping a long-winded comment very short, I recall mentioning to my mother afterward that..aside from the altar and lectern–and the fact that the priest gave a homily–I couldn’t necessarily distinguish the room where Mass was held from the parish hall. (I didn’t mention this next part!) It seemed to me that if we merely rearranged the chairs–yes, they WERE chairs, not pews!–we could fairly readily hold an ice cream sociable in there instead of Mass. But the parish hall was on the other side of the building!

    Point is, Kindspirit, if you see a museum piece that depicts a long-bygone era, I see a beautiful building that provides an appropriate atmosphere for prayer and reflection to address our most desperate needs of the day.
    I don’t care much for the whole semi-circular “community-oriented” layout and the trappings that often go with it. I’m very interested in talking to God at Mass, not my cross-town neighbor.
    We’re there to pray and receive God’s grace, not organize a political action committee. ..Or whatever.

  60. St Donatus says:

    As a small child I lived in Cassville, a town close to Fennimore. What a beautiful thing they have done. They have some beautiful Churches in that area. Oddly, by the time I moved back to the area, I had converted to the Jehovah’s Witness religion and went to a ‘Kingdom Hall’ just down the road, full of ex-Catholics (some of the fruits of post-Conciliar chaos and iconoclasm).

    Thankfully I found my way back to the Church via a traditional latin Mass parish in Colorado. I have often thought how far my childhood friends and neighbors have strayed from their Catholic roots and how I wish I could return as a ‘missionary’ to try to bring them back to the holiness and grace they can have if they only dig a little deeper for the treasure that is just below the surface.

  61. St Donatus says:

    Katherine, again, having grown up in the area, then moving away and watching it change over the years, the destruction of the diocese by liberal bishops in the past, destroyed the faith. My two sisters and myself all left the faith due to these types of taking God out of the Church and replacing him with community. Most of the priests in the diocese are still those trained by the liberal bishops. The Catholics there too were trained by these liberal bishops. They don’t see the Church as anything more than a human institution that changes with the times just like the latest model car. Now when the Church doesn’t change to meet their desires, they just leave. The most recent Bishop has been trying to bring back that sense of reverence and holiness that the diocese once had but fifty years of liberalism can’t be changed in 10 years. When my sister went to get married by the priest to her live in boy friend, she tried to confess to living in sin. The priest told her that there was nothing wrong with what she was doing as long as she was living as a loving and caring person. She was shocked and slowly her and her husband found no need to be part of a Church that asked nothing of them, would not bring them closer to God, and not give them the Graces they needed. Just now my sister is starting to come back. She still feels the sense of her Church being gone when she goes to mass with the altar girls and Lutheran style service, but it is the most reverent Mass she can get to within a two hour drive.

    She says there are no young people, just a sea of white. My Latin Mass parish is growing by at least 10% every year with 70% under the age of 30. We need to be patient. In those parishes where they return reverence, teach the truth of the Church, pray most fervently, with time the Church will come back. The Bishop has been fighting liberal priests to bring back that reverence and holiness, even bringing in other orders to help, but fifty years of damage can’t be cured overnight, especially when most of the priests still hold to the same liberal sympathies as previous Bishops.

  62. Patti Day says:

    The most impressive point for me is that the before picture shows a church that is well cared for, recently painted, well lit, clean floors, and tidy pews not overflowing with discarded bulletins and frayed hymn books. I would go so far as to call it pretty. Many wreckovated churches and those of newer vintage are dark, dank with nasty carpeting, scratched pews, blank walls, no statues or stained glass, lacking in any architectural interest whatsoever, and generally shabby. How were the parishioners persuaded to spend the funds necessary to return a pretty church to a gorgeous example of what a church should be, a place that lifts one up from the mundane to the glorious? May father and the people of St. Mary Church be richly blessed.

  63. Kindspirit says:

    “Built of Living Stones” is the statement of the U.S. Bishops on our understanding of the Liturgy, the role and importance of Church art and architecture. This document was approved by the U.S. Bishops in 2002……and it contains many of the provisions of universal Church law governing liturgical art and architecture. Seems like most who have commented here are ignorant of this document as well as the teaching of Vatican II. [It also contains a purposeful mistranslation of GIRM 299.]

  64. jflare says:

    “Seems like most who have commented here are ignorant of this document as well as the teaching of Vatican II.”

    A rather awkward appraisal, Kindspirit. I’d forgot about the document, but found a 2010 copy from the Archdiocese of Washington. I glanced through it. I didn’t see anything in particular that struck me as problematic to any comments I remember reading here.
    I WOULD dispute the apparent contention by the bishops that the congregation needs to be able to see the choir. I assume they’re concerned about allowing congregation and choir to stay together, but they’ve not paid heed to how most traditional churches..work. No, the congregation CAN’T see the choir director. ..They don’t need to. Since a choir director usually will have an ear tuned to the celebrant and congregation, the congregation may lag or lead a moment, but not for very long. We’re not expecting precision from the congregation, only the choir. Besides, given that the average nave spans some 100 to 300 feet–or longer, especially in a cathedral–keeping everyone not in a choir in exactly the same place..will not happen. People literally can’t see that well that far. ..And sound doesn’t travel that nicely either. Some in the back will typically be slightly different from those in the front.
    Choir members DO need to see the director pretty well; we DO expect a fair degree of precision from them. That’s why they’ve usually been rehearsing a good deal outside of Mass.
    Granted, I’ve been involved with a few parishes where that wasn’t the case. ..I recall I wasn’t involved in those choirs very long, precisely because I felt the effort to be a waste of time.

    ..And I’ve rarely seen a definite need for cantors at an ambo in front. Psalm responses usually aren’t that tough to follow.

    So, ending my rant–I hope–I don’t follow how the Living Stones document or anything from Vatican II poses a problem for anything depicted with this particular renovation, nor for the comments we’ve all made.

  65. Kindspirit,

    “Certainly the architecture that is pre=Vatican II does not reflect these documents.”

    It would be informative if you could cite the sections of specific Vatican II documents on which this contention is based.

    “‘Built of Living Stones’ is the statement of the U.S. Bishops on our understanding of the Liturgy, the role and importance of Church art and architecture.”

    Would that USCCB documents like this one were typically based on careful consideration by at least some of the bishops, so as to actually represent serious episcopal views. I know of none that were not prepared by staff members and staff-appointed committees of activist “experts” and presented to the bishops in formal session in a way that virtually insured pro forma approval. It would be refreshing to see a staff-committee statement that was not essentially rubber-stamped by the bishops, or one that was significantly shaped by views expressed by the bishops in deliberative consideration of it.

    This practice of routinely issuing activist-prepared USCCB staff reports under the name of the bishops–like the predecessor to “Built of Living Stones” that was never formally considered at all by the bishops or any designated group of them, but was issued in their name and caused two decades of wreckovation–probably bears much of the burden for disintegration particularly in the area of liturgy and church art and architecture.

  66. KylieP says:

    KindSpirit:
    …. WHAT?

    This is a stunning renovation! Absolutely wonderful!

    The next step would be to remove that free-standing altar and start doing Masses Ad Orientem!

    All in God’s time! ^_^