Jesus did not found your parish.
Our Lord personally founded the Catholic Church and promised that she would prevail against the forces of Hell. He did not promise that the Enemy would not prevail where you live. He made no promises about the local Church of this or that nation. He said nothing about your parish.
Think of the once vital Church of North Africa in the time of St. Augustine. With his dying breaths, he witnesses the invasion of the Vandals.
A while back I was talking with a friend who was moved to another parish, because the diocese closed his church and merged the parish. Demographics shifted. Finances collapsed. There are fewer priests. Et cetera. When I raised the point that it could be ill-advised for dioceses to sell off churches and land, he countered – rightly – that if people want a church, they will build one and maintain it. That goes for nourishing vocations to the priesthood and not just paying mortgage, heat and light.
He is right. If people want a church badly enough, they will make it happen. Yes, the clergy can play a leadership role in this, but it is fundamentally the will of the people that make these things happen.
I was therefore pleased to read a story – with great photos – about the upgrade a Kansas community has accomplished.
In the Johnson County’s News Magazine we find, and these are but some highlights:
Latin Mass finds a new home in Johnson County
Story Brian Burnes
The Kansas City Star
At first, they couldn’t explain the voices.
For 18 months members of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne have been working to turn the 1940s-era Protestant church into a new home for what sometimes is called the “old” Catholic Latin Mass.
And members of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, who had been meeting in leased space for about 10 years in a separate Kansas City, Kan., Catholic church, long had imagined a permanent home.
So they bought the old Lutheran church. Among their many improvements: an updated sound system.
While testing it, technicians kept getting a hum. They turned up the volume.
That’s when they heard the voices. But it proved to be nothing other-worldly.
They were picking up CNN. The Cable News Network.
“The most paramount aspect for me personally is the reverence,” said John Lewis, 58, of Lenexa.
“The Latin Mass is respectful, it’s beautiful, it’s holy. It allows me to worship without distraction. The focus is on the priest’s actions instead of the activity of the laity.
“I even ask myself, ‘What is it that is so wonderful?’ But it is just so darn serious. This is not frivolous; this is about one’s immortal soul and, if you believe in the hereafter, is there anything else more serious?”
The “old” Latin Mass has a new home in Johnson County.
Members of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne filled the renovated Spanish Mission structure Saturday to witness the building’s formal blessing by Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
The outfitting of the older building with new technology had continued to be challenging. “We just finished putting in the sound 10 minutes ago,” Dan Himmelberg, project architect, said about 20 minutes before the 9 a.m. ceremony.
“The pulpit arrived at 12:30 last night.”
[Archbishop] Naumann, in his homily, praised the renovated church and added that its fine furnishings “represent our striving to give God our very best.”
Some, such as church secretary Watkins, cited possible divine intervention, given that a church member saw the “For Sale” sign posted outside the church while driving by on Easter Sunday.
The community paid $600,000 for the building and invested $177,000 in exterior renovations.
At the time church officials anticipated needing $390,000 to renovate the interior of the church and another $150,000 to furnish it.
Watkins last week estimated that the final investment, including the church’s acquisition, was just more than $2 million.
While much of the renovated church today retains its Spanish Mission style, given its red-tile roof and new interior floor of Spanish-style pavers, it also emphasizes a Romanesque design, especially in its tall center altar.
“It’s a mixture of styles not unknown in the Catholic Church, as many churches were built over periods of centuries,” Fongemie said.
Parish officials, striving to renovate a church that might have been built in 1940, also have relied upon 21st-century technology to outfit it.
A sanctuary lamp, for instance, was found on eBay.
A long list of contractors contributed to the church’s renovation, among them representatives of Sacred Heart Church Art of Beatrice, Neb., which specializes in the restoration of altars and statuary.
The main altar, located in a Pennsylvania church, was taken apart, shipped to Johnson County and then reassembled after various sections had been stripped, primed, painted and then highlighted with gold leaf.
That was in October. The next month representatives of Quimby Pipe Organs in Warrensburg, Mo., assisted in moving the organ (which the previous owners had left) from the sanctuary area to the newly expanded choir loft.
The one hiccup in Saturday’s blessing ceremony involved — again — modern technology.
The amount of sacramental incense burned on Saturday morning produced enough smoke to trigger the church’s smoke alarms.
The solemn high Mass continued regardless.
“It was my first three-alarm Mass,” said Watkins.
Attendants and altar boys who had been responsible for the incense had, Watkins said, loaded up with enough charcoal to see them through the brisk and breezy outdoor portion of the ceremony.
“So we still had plenty of smoke when we got inside,” added Watkins, who promises adjustment of the church’s smoke-alarm system.
“If you noticed,” Watkins added, “that smoke alarm went off in Latin.”
A wonderful event for the Year of Faith.
Congratulations to the members of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne.
They wanted a new church enough to make it happen.