Progress on the chapel at TAC

I was alerted by a reader about the progress being made on the chapel at Thomas Aquinas College in California:

Looks like a Roman church!

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  1. Padre Steve says:

    This Church is going to be amazing! I would love to see the finished product! There are so many things happening so fast! I don’t know if folks read this latest news but it is of interest:

  2. Delia says:

    More like a Florentine one!

  3. Christian says:

    Yes but it has the revoltingly un-theological and weird mariolatrous name of ‘Our Lady of the Holy Trinity’. Note OF not AND. Sick.

  4. Sylvia says:

    Oh, how gorgeous! It looks kind of small, though…maybe that’s just me?

  5. It is a marvellous chapel.

    Now if only they can keep the (Protestant) pews out…

    :-) Fr. Deacon Daniel

  6. Maureen says:

    So… St. Teresa de Jesus, St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, and Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity were all given heretical religious names. Hokeydokey.

    Our Lady worshipped and served God the Trinity. You can certainly call her Mary of the Trinity if you like.

  7. Romulus says:

    ‘Our Lady of the Holy Trinity’.

    Christian, I wonder about this too. What on earth can it mean?

    Delia — I agree. Florentine.

  8. Maureen says:


    Apparently, the title of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity is not new in the least. It’s associated in some way with
    a vision St. Gertrude had, in which she saw streams of grace and love sent out from the Trinity into Mary’s heart.

    It seems to be more popular as a title in French-speaking areas; there’s even a 1930’s French basilica with that dedication.
    There are also a good number of schools and parishes dedicated to Our Lady of the Trinity, as well as some sort of missionary society founded in the late fifties.
    UD’s Marian Library has some info also.

    Maureen, who’d rather be known as “of the Trinity” than “of the devil”!

  9. Phil (NL) says:

    @ Sylvia:

    It’s rather hard to estimate dimesnion from this photo, especially as there are no visible people for references. If the central part is say 20 feet wide, the church is tiny (the parts under the arches are roughly 60% of it, so it would be a total widt of 44 feet or so then). If it’s 40, it’s quite large – but from the picture, it’s hard to tell which estimate is clsoer to the truth.

  10. Patrick T says:


    There are more renderings and photos at

    I believe that it will seat about 400 when completed. But there will only be pews between the columns in the center of the nave and in the right and left transepts. From other renderings it looks as though the center nave will be about 28-30 feet between columns. The wide side aisles will be able to have chairs added for large Masses. So, perhaps they could accomodate 600-650 or so, maybe more.

  11. josephus muris saliensis says:

    Not so much more like a florentine one, as entirely like one, except it’s rather shiny. Spectacular, shows it can be done!

  12. Suzanne says:

    I suspect “Christian” is not a Catholic Christian.

    The chapel is AMAZINGLY gorgeous!! Wow!

  13. mwa says:

    Here is the official statement on the name of the Chapel:
    “The Name
    All of St. Thomas Aquinas’ work-all of his natural philosophy and theology-aims ultimately at understanding and revering the God-head, Three-in-One. Thus, the doctrine of the Trinity is one of the last things a student studies at Thomas Aquinas College.

    Pope John Paul II reminds us in his encyclical Fides et Ratio that “The Church has been justified in consistently proposing St. Thomas as a master of thought and a model of the right way to do theology.” His Holiness concludes that encyclical by invoking the life and example of the Blessed Virgin as a “true parable,” illuminating the relation between faith and reason. “For between the vocation of the Blessed Virgin and the vocation of true philosophy there is a deep harmony.”

    It is therefore particularly fitting that the Chapel of Thomas Aquinas College be both Trinitarian and Marian.

    To honor Mary with the name “Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity” is to honor her as the perfect daughter, spouse, and mother. A religious congregation founded under this title (the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity) explains it succinctly: She is the perfect daughter of the Father through the redemptive Incarnation and passion of the Son; she is the spouse of the Holy Spirit through the will of the Father and continues to be the most perfect of all mystical spouses; she is the most perfect mother of the Word through the will of the Father and the work of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, she is the most perfect creation of the Father through the Son.”

  14. Romulus says:

    For a procession to move unimpeded down the central aisle, an absolute minimum of 6 feet is needed. Seven feet is more like it if a celebrant in cope is going to be attended on either side (as in the Asperges, e.g.). Since the central aisle here (clearly demarcated in the pavement) occupies about one quarter of the width of the central nave, we are dealing with a span of at least 24-28 feet.

    Also, the width of the central nave in this tightly-designed classical structure appears to be equal to the height of the tribune (if that’s the word I’m thinking of). The height of the columns can be estimated from the position of the two handbills taped to the shafts of two columns: if the handbills have been placed at a workman’s eye height, they’ll be about 5 feet above the floor. Working this way, I estimate the shaft length at 15 feet, and the overall height to the tribune twice 15, or 30 feet.

    If we average these two estimates, we come to a central nave of 28 feet — space enough for a proper procession to move along the central aisle, and pews with space for six persons on either side.

  15. Joshua says:

    I am not a biggest fan of the chapel (and there were a lot of students at TAC with me who disliked certain things about it), but I though I would mention this. The original design had a raised area beyond the steps to the altar, and then an altar rail. That was scrapped originally because of, umm ecclesiatical issues. The plan was to install it later, say after 2011. But because of the Motu Proprio they largely restored the original plan (even though we kneel for communion at all Masses, the fact that we now do daily old Masses became a convenient argument to put them back in).

    Also some may have seen drawings with the rail at the top step. That was scrapped, and it will be placed at a much better position.

    There is certainly room enough for any procession, though the liturgical life at TAC is kind of on the “low Mass” side. (Thankfully we were able to push for a High Mass in the old rite every Sunday and with much effort by a few try to do it with every bit of Solemnity we can, so that is an improvement there).

    Father Deacon Daniel, there were some at school (e.g. the schola director, who is also a very good teacher for instance) that would agree with you about the pews.

  16. Mary says:

    As a student from another Catholic university which has a chapelw hich might be better referred to as a cave, I share in the joy of the STudents of Thomas Aquinas at this fine piece of architecture.

  17. Ken says:

    I think it’s very sad that the superior general of the F.S.S.P. will not be able to return to his alma mater and celebrate a Solemn High Mass there. Why? There is simply no room to do it with the current design of the “sanctuary.” It would cost money and take time, but there needs to be some serious re-design. Yes, it was designed before the motu proprio — but that’s no reason to have an otherwise beautiful chapel completely useless for the highest form of the traditional Mass.

    Just do it right, TAC.

  18. Patrick T says:


    There appears to be plenty of room to celebrate a Solemn High Mass. Surely, such Masses have been celebrated in smaller sanctuaries than this one. I’d assume that Mr. Stroik knew they would be celebrating both forms of the Mass since they have a long history of doing that at TAC.

    I’m sure Fr. Berg will be able to celebrate Mass there at some point.

  19. Joshua says:

    I think it’s very sad that the superior general of the F.S.S.P. will not be able to return to his alma mater and celebrate a Solemn High Mass there. Why? There is simply no room to do it with the current design of the “sanctuary.” It would cost money and take time, but there needs to be some serious re-design. Yes, it was designed before the motu proprio—but that’s no reason to have an otherwise beautiful chapel completely useless for the highest form of the traditional Mass.

    Just do it right, TAC.
    Comment by Ken — 14 October 2008 @ 11:15 am

    1. My friend and I personally walked around the sanctuary area to see if a Solemn Mass could be done. This was before the made some final changes. Our conclusion (btw I largely organised the High Masses in the old rite at TAC last year) was that it was, indeed possible.

    2. Because of the motu proprio several changes were made during construction. I mentioned this above. The most important was the placement of the rail further down and away from the three main steps. This greatly facilitates a Solemn Mass

    But I must reply to Patrick
    TAC does not have such a long history. We only started our daily old Mass last year (after the motu proprio). The, prior, monthly indult Mass was a hybrid like low Mass (we had a schola chanting, but other than that it was low), then it became a low form Dominican rite Sung Mass. We do now, thankfully (it was kind of a battle) has a High Mass every Sunday, which we try to do in “high form” with incense and torches, but TAC has generally had a “low Mass style” to its Masses, insofar as the role of servers and priest are concerned (obviously a schola at the early morning Sunday Mass, and a polyphonic choir at the next are more “High Mass” than normal).

    We almost had a Dominican solemn Mass in our temporary chapel, but it was scrapped because of lack of room (the Dominican rite requires more room than the Tridentine). But even there there was room if we had pushed the altar back.

  20. A Random Friar says:

    It delights my heart to hear TAC offering the Dominican Rite. The Tridentine/EF is *so* modernist in comparison. ;)

  21. Boko says:

    This chapel is smaller than, and thus less pleasing to Almighty God than, Ave Maria University’s Oratory. Go Gyrenes! In your face, TAC!



    dictated by not read

  22. avecrux says:

    Dear Joshua –

    As an older graduate of TAC myself, I can tell you that some of the difficulties in offering the “old” Mass came due to heresy that was being promoted on campus among certain members of the student body (for example – that the NO was intrinsically heretical and only preserved in being valid due to a “special action” of the Holy Spirit). When I was a student there, another student had actually contacted the LA Archdiocese in reference to this. I was there during a very difficult period.

    I rejoice in the latest developments.

  23. TJM says:

    This chapel is pretty stunning. I guess they didn’t need Father Vosko. Tom

  24. Joshua says:

    It delights my heart to hear TAC offering the Dominican Rite. The Tridentine/EF is so modernist in comparison. ;)
    Comment by A Random Friar — 14 October 2008 @ 1:48 pm

    I should add two things

    1. We still had a High Dominican Mass that day, with as much ceremony as possible (as the ceremonial directs, rather unlike the Tridentine Missa Cantata which has more assumed less ceremony)

    2. But the Dominican priest normally offers the Tridentine, because the school feels that the Dominican would be too confusing. Exceptions are made for certain feasts at least.

    I experienced none of that, and I was in the “traditionalist” circles. The most extreme view expressed when I was there (2004-08) was that of the SSPX, and then by a grand total of three people, for two different classes (one of which was not even that extreme himself, he even served the indult Mass for a while). Certainly no one who thought it heretical.

  25. “But the Dominican priest normally offers the Tridentine, because *the school* feels that the Dominican would be too confusing.”

    Sigh. You are fortunate that Father is generous and understanding. Some friars might be less so.

  26. Lucia says:


    Thomas Aquinas College is one of the places I am looking at for college! This makes me want to go even more… :)

  27. avecrux says:

    Good to know, Joshua!

  28. avecrux says:

    Dear Ken –

    The Thomas Aquinas College community has waited almost 40 years to construct this chapel because their greatest desire is to have a fitting place for the worship of God. We sat through daily, packed Masses in the little temporary section of the commons so that, one day, God willing, the school could \”do it right\”. This chapel is a labor of love on the part of the TAC community, past and present. They have tried to spare no expense – even flying the cornerstone to Rome in order to be blessed by Pope Benedict on the Feast of Pope St. Gregory the Great this year (it was somewhere between 600 and 700 lbs.). They have done their best. If more people were generous, they could probably have done more.

  29. Lucia says:

    Speaking of Dominican liturgy…an event in Washington, DC I thought readers might enjoy:

  30. Richard says:

    I’m applying there!

  31. Professor says:

    Before making up your mind for TAC, be aware that Wyoming Catholic College’s chaplaincy offers the Extraordinary Form every Sunday at noon, with a polyphonic choir and Gregorian chant — this, in its second year of operation! On Saturdays at 9:00 AM the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is celebrated, with harmonized music. Not the “low Mass” approach! Keep us in mind as we strive to realize Pope Benedict’s vision of liturgy and spirituality.

  32. Clare says:

    Wyoming Catholic College looks like an extraordinary place. I imagine I would have applied there if it hadn’t been for the fact that my brother has been at TAC for the past three years… I’ve come to consider it a bit of a home away from home. I’m trying to spread the word about WCC, though, and encourage my friends to consider it.

    I’m so excited to see how the chapel is progressing. Does anyone have any word on when it will be finished? Last winter my brother said something about this summer, but apparently it will be a little while yet.

  33. Ken says:

    Avecrux wrote: “They have done their best. If more people were generous, they could probably have done more.”

    Designing a sanctuary that can comfortably fit a traditional Missa Solemnis is not an issue of money.

  34. Ken says:

    Lucia — The Halloween event at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. is — sadly — not a traditional Latin Dominican vespers service. Maybe one day there, although it looks very unlikely.

  35. Lucia says:


    I know that, I just thought readers might be interested. :) But thanks for the tip (and I am not being sarcastic)!

  36. Joshua says:

    Professor, glad to hear that about Wyoming. I have a friend working there. Hopefully accreditation comes soon. I would recommend the school at anyone (as well as TAC)

    But I would add, the 1962 Mass on Sundays at TAC is a full High Mass, only lacking deacon and subdeacon. The other days the EF is just a low Mass (though we did not a low form Missa Cantata on Sacred Heart, and the solemn blessing of the ashes on Ash Wednesday). I merely meant above that, while I have been there, high liturgy was not the norm outside of the Sunday music. I think my last year there saw a change in that, introduced through the EF. Hopefully the OF that follows at 9 with a polyphonic choir becomes sung (on the priest part) and done with more solemnity too.

  37. Joshua says:

    Oh, the original dedication was slated for November. It is now to be dedicated in March. I am not sure it was finalised, but 7th of March (the old feast of St. Thomas) I believe was the choice/.

  38. Aelric says:

    the 1962 Mass on Sundays at TAC is a full High Mass, only lacking deacon and subdeacon.

    Huh? Do you mean a missa cantata ?

  39. Nicholas says:


    Are you from the isles? As far as I can tell, the British/Irish usage is to speak of Low Mass, Missa Cantata, High Mass, whereas the American usage is to speak of Low Mass, High Mass, Solemn/Solemn High Mass.

  40. Perhaps it is not well-known that there are two distinct forms of Missa cantata — that is, a sung Mass without deacon and subdeacon — as described in Chapter XIII of the 2003 edition of Fortescue.

    The simpler form is a sung Mass with choir, but usually just one or two altar servers, and “the ceremonies are almost the same as at low Mass.”

    The more solemn form of Missa cantata “presupposes an MC, acolytes, thurifer, torch-bearers, and partakes more of the nature of solemn Mass, except for the absence of the sacred ministers.”

  41. avecrux says:

    Dear Ken –
    Joshua, who has been around the sanctuary in person had already corrected you on that point in a post above. He said the sanctuary was large enough.
    God bless.

  42. JSC says:

    It is a beautiful chapel . . . but do I see an altar pushed all the way up to the steps? When are we going to no longer be forced into versus populum!

  43. Bill J. says:

    JSC, there is no altar at all in the photo. See “avecrux” just above your post on this complaint. This “objection” to the TAC plan was perhaps justified three years ago when made about provisional plans, but its uninformed reiteration has made it absurd, especially after several corrections in this very thread.

    Someone just isn’t listening . . . But it is so much more fun to criticize others who (supposedly) don’t live up to some artificial standards (personal preferenes?) found nowhere in any church documents.

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