KC: Glorious new altars for the TLM parish – eye candy

Everything is up to date in Kansas City.

They’ve gone just about as far as they can…. with building their beautiful new altars for Old St. Patrick’s Church in downtown KC.

This is the church which H.E. Most Reverend Robert Finn has designated for the use of the 1962 Missale Romanum.

Let’s have a look:

Posted May 24, 2008


We have much to thank Msgr. Bradley Offutt for, during his three years of directing the OSP building committee and all his wonderful advice. And for giving us the advantage of his vast experience in renovation and building. But, more than anything, we have to thank Monsignor for his choice of altars for the Oratory. At great expense of his time, he traveled to Boston on our behalf and toured many of the closed and closing churches of that archdiocese. Of all the available Catholic church furnishings available to us there, he chose the one shown below ­ now fully installed at Old St. Patrick. It is magnificent. The photos don’t do it justice. For the first time, it is now completely apparent that our small parish will have one of the most beautiful churches in the diocese. Since the scaffolding is still standing at the sides of the church, it is not possible to get decent pictures of the side altars. But, they are beautiful with majestic marble statues of the Blessed Mother on the left and the Sacred Heart on the right. The niches to either side of the altar will contain statues of St. Patrick and St. Bridget. They are being refinished at this time.

Below is a side view of the main altar which clearly shows some of the splendid detail.

This picture is from the back side of the main altar and show some of the beautiful detail including the little cherubs on the four corners of the central feature of the altar. It also shows some the beautiful metallic mosaic work on the altar in greater detail.

This is a view of the main altar slab. As you can see, the tabernacle door is missing. It is being refinished. Also missing is the altar stone. This stone will be placed and sealed in the altar during the consecration ceremonies scheduled for October 25, 2008. Everyone is looking forward to that great date.

To view previous photos, click here…



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. craig says:

    They are incredible in person, as is the entire place. I was given the honour of putting locks on the Tabernacle doors (which are beautiful pieces of art themselves).

    God Bless Bishop Finn and Msgr. Fielder for all they have done for the community, and the Church overall.

  2. Lindsay says:

    How beautiful! It is nice to see that in spite of some terrible architectural choices in the recent past to see beauty like this restored!

    Also, Fr. Z, I love your musical theater references. They make this former student of theater laugh, and I’m sure the score from Oklahoma will run through my mind for the rest of the day. I only recently read of your having been a thespian yourself, though I should have suspected;)

    I have lately realized the connection between my early draw to the performing arts to what became a love of liturgy which was part of my initial attraction away from Protestantism. Now, as a Catholic, I am apparently still on the path as I am drawn more and more towards beautiful liturgy–the ultimate theater experience. Of course, I don’t mean in the modern sense as a means of entertainment (though, there was a time in my life when that was likely true), rather, it is an understanding of how all of the elements of liturgy (“scenery” “costumes” “music” “props”) can draw our hearts and minds to the ultimate artist and truly affect our souls!

    What would Rogers and Hammerstein think if they knew they were part of my conversion to Catholicism? ;)

  3. Heaven on earth! Just beautiful!

  4. Rob Quagan says:

    I am so overjoyed for the folks at Old St. Patrick’s. This is a stunning restoration. As a Boston Catholic, it remains a sad loss as I watch our own Archdiocese otherwise squander our physical patrimony. I find it terribly ironic that this altar came from St. Mary Star of the Sea in East Boston. A parish that was “flipped” by a developer to a vehemently-anti Catholic Brazilian sect, Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. We may yet see this again in our own parish, Holy Trinity, that is slated for suppression on 30 June. Our parish, the site of Boston’s former Indult community (4/1990-4/2007) has renewed its celebration of the the Traditional Latin Mass under Benedict’s Motu Proprio, since February 10th. The Archdiocese’s conduct to facilitate our parish demise is a scandal unto itself and should not over shadow this joyous accomplishment by the Institute in KC. One only hopes that the physical patrimony of Boston’s Catholics can trancend the Boston hierarchy’s utilitarian shortsightedness that prevails in the present moment.


    The mere fact that St. Mary’s altar will survive and will be used for the very form of Holy Mass for which it was truly erected is a testimony unto itself for future generations. May the Catholics of Kansas City never fall into the state of desolation that the Catholics of the Archdiocese of Boston have. Pray for our Bishops. Pray for Cardinal O’Malley. Pray for a true Restoration.

    In nomine sancto ejus,

    Robert R. Quagan, Parishioner

    Holy Trinity Church
    Boston, Massachusetts

    More on St. Mary Star of the Sea; East Boston, MA





  5. Rudy B says:

    Wow. I went through the successive pages of pictures on their site, and I am simply amazed at their tenacity. Anyone short-sighted enough to believe that there is only the pseudo-“modern” way to build or renovate churches should look at the hard work these faithful have put into their parish. These folks have a true understanding of “brick by brick”!

    May Old St. Patrick’s flourish and be an example for everyone to imitate!

  6. Humilitas says:

    Dear Robert;
    As a former New Englander, I sympathize with you and the good people of the Archdiocese of Boston on the decision to close so many beautiful churches.

    I think back to all of the many families who pledged what they could afford to build these magnificent houses of prayer so many years ago.

    I wonder why Holy Trinity would be closed since it seems to be a very vibrant Latin Mass community.

    Please know that I will keep you, the good parishoners and clergy of Holy Trinity in my prayers and I will also pray that Archbishop O’Malley will have a change of heart and keep this beautiful church open for many years to come.

  7. Dan Hunter says:

    My wife and I assisted at the Gregorian Mass at Holy Trinity a few years back.
    Iremember arriving very early and going downstairs to wait in what looked like a very pretty crypt church, replete with white marble ad-orientem altar.
    The schola began to rehearse and they were magnificent.

    Is it true that the German community brought the first Christmas tree in the new world first into Holy Trinity?

    It is such a shame that a magnificent church with over 150 years of history should be discarded.
    Do you know why?

    God bless all the parishioners of the TLM at Shawmut Street.

  8. Ben says:

    I am sorry but that just look gaudy. This is an example of a few of the bad designs and color choices from the Victorian era. Sorry Fr Z but I can’t like how this church looks. Just my personal opinion…

  9. Michael says:

    Gaudy? Gaudy? Maybe Ben meant Gaudeamus?

  10. TJM says:

    Ben, if that’s “gaudy” I’d sure like to post an example of an altar you think is appropriate. I was struck by its pristine and noble beauty. De gustibus non disputandum est. Tom

  11. Jayna says:

    I think it’s beautiful. I only wish my church would consider the idea of remodeling the sanctuary. Everything in it now is made of wood (even the vessels!), it reminds me of a log cabin. No stained glass in sight, orange carpet everywhere and no crucifix on the altar. Oh well, I can at least rejoice in the knowledge that there are some people who believe that aesthetics is not a bad (i.e. elitist) word.

  12. Dob says:

    There will always be issues on designs and colour schemes but there is one thing we can all agree on – It is great to be alive to see this happening.

    God Bless Pope Benedict and Bishop Finn

  13. Rob Quagan says:


    Not to stray too far from the topic being discussed (and I ask Fr. Z to bear with me), I will answer your two questions regarding Holy Trinity Church (HTC) in Boston.

    “Is it true that the German community brought the first Christmas tree in the new world first into Holy Trinity?”

    German Catholics were among the earliest Catholics to emigrate to Boston. Holy Trinity Parish dates from 1844 and the present church building, designed by Irish born architect, Patrick Keely was dedicated in 1877.


    The Yankee Congregationalist establishment in mid 19th century Boston was extremely hostile toward Catholics. In fact many of the Puritan inspired “Blue Laws” dating from Colonial times were still actively enforced by their Congregationalist and Unitarian descendants. Prohibitions on all sorts of “popish” customs heavily oppressed not only Catholic newcomers, but Anglicans (Episcopalians) alike. Liturgical ritual, display of Crosses or the Crucifix, or the merriment associated with Christmas were all but banished from public life since the establishment of the Bay Colony of Massachusetts in 1630.

    As a major port of entry, in the 19th century, the shear number of new European immigrants from the continent along with famine stricken Irish escaping their own penal establishment, literally displaced displaced the Yankee hegemony. It was this opening that Holy Trinity’s first parishioners entered Boston. Families predominantly from Bavaria and Austro-Hungary literally introduced their Christmas customs, as the Christmas tree to not only New England, but America.

    I should also mention around 1850, Louis Prang, a German immigrant to Boston, and parishioner of Holy Trinity began the practice of exchanging hand-made Christmas holiday cards with his friends. By 1865 he was printing and selling lithgraphed cards throughout the United States. To this day he is considered the “Father of the Greeting Card Industry.”


    It is such a shame that a magnificent church with over 150 years of history should be discarded.
    Do you know why?

    This is the $64,000 question. This is still a mystery to me. Based on what I know about the fiscal situation born out of scandals in Boston, lack of clergy and changing demographics is the “one size fits all” mantra. I could list numerous counter arguments to no avail. The Archdiocese will not budge. Personally, I think Holy Trinity is an important piece of our heritage and physical Catholic patrimony and one cannot easily assign a monetary value to it. This decision is not only wrongheaded, but extremely short sighted.

  14. Trad Tom says:

    While I find it so sad to hear of churches closing, artifacts ripped out, and the general demise of the beautiful, old buildings and furnishings, it is uplifting to see them transferred, refurbished, and part of TRUE renovation in other Catholic churches. How lucky, how blessed, Old St. Patrick’s in Kansas City truly is. How lucky, how blessed it would be, to be a part of that very special parish.

  15. Brian Day says:

    Are the colors rendered correctly? I like the design, but the color of the wallpaper behind the alter seems “off”. Maybe that is why Ben described it as gaudy.

    In person it probably looks fine, but to me, the color looks like a weird shade of lavender.

  16. Ben says:

    Let me explain somemore. I think that the marble and the altre layout is great and that overall the sanctuary look amazing. But I dislike the overuse of the bright colors on the alter. It looks too retro ’70s. Too modern. I only have problems with the alter. I don’t mind a lot of color and I love this one Bergnini church in Rome (the one with the famous statue of St. Teresa) that has statues, colors, etc. everywhere. It is so Catholic! :) But here in my personal opinon I don’t think the modern retro coloring works on the alter. I am only a layman and have no artistic training, but I know that I would be completely distracted in this church. Maybe the alter would look better with other things of the same color scemes like statues or what not would help. Sorry but for me this alter looks like bad Victorian artwork (I love Victorian chuches!). I think that it can be rendered better to show the best of the period.

  17. craig says:

    The colours in the photo are off quite a bit. The main wall colour is bit paler, more like rich butter than yellow. The wall paper in the sanctuary is much lighter than the photo, a bit rosier perhaps (I am awful with colour descriptions). I don’t know why the colours are all weird. I might stop by this week and take a few shots of my own, I need to prep the camera for Clear Creek anyways

  18. Father Totton says:

    I saw the church on Saturday. It actually looks incredibly beautiful in person. As to the colors on the altar (which Ben objects to) I believe those are original, and are part of a marble mosaic design in the altar itself. These have not been “Jazzed-up” for modern sensibilities. In my experience the colors only enhance teh beauty of the altar, I did not find them to be distracting or excessively gaudy. I was also impressed with the woodwork (the balcony of the choir loft has been stripped of its whitewash and the original woodwork has been properly finished) which should well complement all the other elements which are going in to restoring this gem of a church in the heart of Kansas City. As far as I know this is the oldest church (still in operation) in the city of Kansas City – some even make the claim that it is the oldest in the diocese, I am not so sure about that, but it is possible.

  19. Everyday Catholic says:

    The renovation of Old St. Patrick’s is to be celebrated, for sure. However, I think it is only just to note that Bishop Finn entrusted this church to the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest to renovate and administer as an oratory, and it would be negligent not to give the Institue credit for the work. Furthermore, I believe the man who did most of the archictural work is Mr. William Heyer. If I’m wrong, please someone correct me. “Veritatem facientes in caritate,” as St. Francis de Sales so often remarked.

  20. OSPO Member says:

    Though thanks are due to ICKSP for providing a priest to the Diocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph it is hardly just to credit them with the restoration work that is being done without mentioning those who have given so deeply for this project. As is documented on the website, much of the work has been performed on a volunteer basis by members of the community, sacrificing their limited spare time for this restoration over the course of several years. Much credit is due to the good monsignor who serves as diocesan chancellor who also has given his time to chair the building committee which is composed of lay volunteers who have freely sacrificed their time and talents to this project. The Latin Mass Community itself has been extremely generous in pledging funds at a per family level that is much higher than for typical parish construction projects. It should finally be noted that Bishop Finn was exceedingly generous not just in providing the church building but also seed money to help fund the great amount of contracted work that is required to complete the church interior.

  21. Another OSP Member says:

    Thanks to the writer of the above comment. What he/she wrote is completely accurate. I’d go even a little further. The Institute of Christ the King as represented by the priest that was sent to Kansas City has spent little time at the Oratory renovation site. This morning at Mass the name of an oblate of the Institute was touted as being part of the design and renovation of the Oratory in a significant way. This is completely untrue. Without going into the detail, this person contributed very little in time or talent. I wish that the Institute would not resort to its typical penchant for puffery and exaggeration regarding its activities. Its local priest would be much more accepted and respected if this was the case. After all, our parish should be about the lives and souls of its congregation. It is not for the glorification of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.

  22. OSPO Member says:

    Are you certain? I think I read somewhere that the new motto of the Institute is ‘Ad Majorem Instituti Gloriam’. Sigh, it is so difficult to not sound bitter in these comboxes.

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