St. Mary’s is getting a Continuity Makeover – VIDEO

My friend Fr. Greg Markey has gotten a spectacular renovation project going at his parish in Norwalk, CT.

St. Mary’s is getting the “Continuity Makeover”.

Another angle of the New Evangelization.

Gosh!  I wonder if, once it is done, they’ll invite me to come sing a Mass sometime?  I believe I would be free that day for Mass and a blognic.

How many parishes experienced the secularizing, banalizing vandalism of the spirit of Vatican II?  Altars stripped, statues and vestments and … you name it… dumpsterized for the sake of ephemeral notions.  How much money was WASTED in the name of that rubbish?  How many gifts of the people of God, often poor, hard-working immigrants, were scrapped for naught?

I am so glad to see that Fr. Markey is working to heal this church.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. backtothefuture says:

    I attend St. Mary’s. God bless father Markey and the rest of the wonderful priests there. It’s been truly a gift from God to be able to fully experience the beauty of our faith at Saint Mary’s.

  2. OrthodoxChick says:

    Wow! So beautiful! Makes me wish that I lived down that end of the state. I’ll have to plan a visit down there sometime once it is finished.

  3. benedetta says:


  4. joanofarcfan says:

    Very jealous. Lose one, win one.

  5. APX says:

    One thing I’ve noticed is that some time shortly after Vatican II, a suspicious number of churches suffered severe fire damage to the inside of churches requiring extensive renovations. Hmm…

  6. JohnE says:

    I happened to be on the website for Our Lady of Mt. Carmel near Denver just the other day. From pictures on the website, it looks as though their renovation is complete:

  7. Priam1184 says:

    Thank you Father Markey and all who have supported this effort! Deo gratias! Deo gratias! Deo gratias!

  8. Emsley says:

    Or church now has whitewashed walls and an unfortunate tapestry over the mostly disregarded old altar. When I first saw pictures of the interior from 70 years ago, I started to cry: all the walls covered in designs and murals, statues all about, an altar properly dressed. Why did they do it?

  9. Emsley says:


  10. Let’s be quite honest and forthright about this matter. The destruction of images and iconography, the stripping away of beauty from Altars, and the abolition of proper vestments is flatly heretical. It isn’t plainly taught in any authoritative document and is thus merely a grasping at straws and a place of words in the mouths of the Fathers of Vatican II. The third canon of the Nicaea II, the Ecumenical Council of 787 convoked under the authority of Pope Adrian I and by the Emperor and Empress Constantine VI and Irene, states the following:

    “If anyone does not salute such representations (icons and images, and by extension statues) as standing for the Lord and His Saints, let him be anathema.”

    Likewise it also taught authoritatively:

    “we decree with full precision and care that,
    like the figure of the honoured and life-giving cross,
    the revered and holy images,
    whether painted or
    made of mosaic
    or of other suitable material,
    are to be exposed
    in the holy Churches of God,
    on sacred instruments and vestments,
    on walls and panels,
    in houses and by public ways,
    these are the images of
    our Lord, God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and of
    our Lady without blemish, the holy God-bearer, and of
    the revered angels and of
    any of the saintly holy men…

    Therefore all those who dare to think or teach anything different, or who follow the accursed heretics in rejecting ecclesiastical traditions, or who devise innovations, or who spurn anything entrusted to the Church (whether it be the gospel or the figure of the cross or any example of representational art or any martyr’s holy relic), or who fabricate perverted and evil prejudices against cherishing any of the lawful traditions of the Catholic Church, or who secularize the sacred objects and saintly monasteries, we order that they be suspended if they are Bishops or Clerics, and excommunicated if they are monks or lay people.”

    It is therefore plainly heretical in the highest sense to strip Churches of icons, images, statues, proper and ornate vestments, and so on. It is not simply banal and secular, though it is also that; it is literally, starkly, and absolutely heretical. This Ecumenical Council (which is also, in a sense, more important than the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, because it is the sort which issued infallible canons) is perpetually relevant and absolutely vital to be listened to today. My town parish is an absolute travesty and almost surely violates the teachings of Nicaea II, and on the claimed but non-existent authority of Vatican II.

  11. Palladio says:

    “the claimed but non-existent authority of Vatican II.” I don’t follow. V II has no authority? Or, your parish claims V II has authority of a kind V II does not have?

  12. maryh says:

    “the claimed but non-existent authority of Vatican II”

    I read JonathonCatholic to say that the stripping of the altars, like various other things people did claiming the authority of Vatican II, were not actually called for by Vatican II. Perhaps he will clarify.

  13. Kate says:

    Fr. Markey is an excellent priest. In addition to the renovation, he serves his parishioners in many good and holy ways. I am not surprised he is your friend, Fr. Z. He is a real treasure for us.

  14. Kathleen10 says:

    Connecticut’s ABN. All Blonde Network.
    It doesn’t sound like Connecticut at all. A piece about the church and not one mention of the scandals, pedophiles, or other nasty bits. Hm.
    Father Z., if you do go to this beautiful church, puhleeze post that fact a few times in advance. If I miss a Fr. Z. sighting and blognic, I will be bummed.
    Orthodoxchick, you must live very near me.

  15. voiceinthewilderness says:

    We have an old St. Mary’s in our downtown. It is such a beautiful building but has been destroyed. I also almost cried when I saw an old photo of the sanctuary (altar and murals are long gone). It needs this kind of renovation–physically and spiritually.

  16. OrthodoxChick says:


    Are you in CT? For some reason, I was under the impression that you live in Taxachusetts. I’m in the Quiet Corner, not far from the Taxachusetts border.

  17. Kerry says:

    If any other readers here are also considering a move west from the Land of 10000 Therapies, St. Mary’s Church in Salem has those blue ceilings and the Latin Mass. SalemCatholic blog is written by the priest.

  18. marylise says:

    Financial injustice is a hallmark of the modernist demolition. However, this injustice does not get the attention it deserves. We tend to be understandably preoccupied instead with intellectual and moral degradation. As Father Z. writes: “How many gifts of the people of God, often poor, hard-working immigrants, were scrapped for naught?” Often modernists are not satisfied with their initial destruction, e.g., marble altar rails crushed, but then they have to have another go, e.g., repaint the whole building bland beige. Modernists love bland beige just as they hate purple (Passion), blue (Mary), and black (death). This is to say nothing of Catholic dollars that go from the collection plate into the bank accounts of abortion supporters. And let’s not forget money spent on paying off homosexual blackmailers and silencing victims of homosexual priests. What about salaries and benefits for all those “pastoral assistants” and paper pushers at chancery offices? (We finance their paid vacations.) Financial injustice preceded the intellectual and moral decay we lament. No wonder Pope Francis appears to be devoting his papacy to poverty of spirit. Let’s stop being shy about confronting financial crimes committed against the people of God.

  19. MacBride says:

    It amazes me in light of all the restoration stories, the wreckovations are also continuing today. Just recently in a local parish the priest took the 100 yr old altar rail out and put a modern ultra expensive altar in that does not match the gothic style of the church…but I digress.

    On a more interesting note, I have come to find out that in a few of these “stripped” (or de-constructed) churches, most of the stuff that has been removed is stored in the basements of these churches. I think it is time to bring our Catholic tradition and faith out of the basement….and start a grassroots movement to start restoring what has wrongly been taken away.

  20. mamajen says:

    Nice that it’s getting press coverage! I like the paintings in particular. Exquisite.

    We are fortunate in that wreckovations really did not occur in our area. We have gorgeous churches. Unfortunately, they are falling into disrepair and I worry that some of the churches will get so bad that they won’t easily be fixed. Some priests are very savvy about saving money and knowing how to get the work done, but others either lack ambition or have different priorities.

  21. Skeinster says:

    Sometimes, happily, the items removed find a new home somewhere else. Our three altars, holy water fonts, baptismal font, Stations and the marble angels on either side of the altar are all “recycled”. As are our two large statues of Our Lady, one rescued from the local Catholic hospital, and passed onto us by our beloved Carmelites.
    If you’d like to see, we’re Mater Dei, Irving TX.
    We’re blessed for sure.

  22. Suburbanbanshee says:

    What a beautiful job. A beautiful church looks even better when it’s loved and cared for, and when the original intent of the architect is respected.

  23. In my assignment before my last one, I pastored two parishes, and in both of them, between my predecessor and me, we made some significant improvements. We weren’t able to do full restoration, but a great deal of ugliness was removed and beauty restored. In one church, the tabernacle had been relocated to the side, and I put it back in the center–guess what we displaced when the tabernacle returned? The celebrant’s chair! After that, the chair was rotated around 90 degrees.

    At the other, we had–as Father Markey seems to have had–a whitewashed interior, as well as a carpeted floor, and rather plain appointments. After a very successful fundraising effort, the parish was able to repaint the church with a blue ceiling adorned with gold stars, quasi-restore the pressed-tin sanctuary ceiling–I say quasi, because as far as we know, the tin had been unadorned originally, we were able to accentuate the design in blue and gold–install a hardwood nave floor and tile sanctuary floor, add back the statues that had been taken away, and add new art as well.

    Here’s why I tell the story:

    In both churches, these changes elicited tears of joy.

    As I said, neither of these were full “restoration,” because we didn’t restore all the painted art, or the ornate altars, that had once been there. That was beyond our reach–but perhaps one of my successors may be able to go further.

    I will also point out that, where some of these “renovations” divide parishes, in the cases I described, there was tremendous unity. Naturally, some objected to the expense, and I can respect that; but especially in the case of the larger project, the parish was polled–after viewing the plan–and was 90+% in favor. The funds came in quickly when asked for. And of the few who objected, many went out of their way, afterward, to say, they were wrong and very happy.

    It can be done, especially if a parish priest has a vision.

  24. contrarian says:

    I want to go to there.

  25. marylise says:

    Fr. Martin Fox: Blue ceiling with gold stars — yes! Please take us there. What parishioner would not love to donate for this kind of beauty, which speaks all at once of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, mystery, eternity and freedom? How absolutely thrilling. How appropriate. How lovely.

  26. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The Tabernacle and then the Temple were both designed to look like a little model of the cosmos, as the Children of Israel understood it. Each Temple did a more elaborate job of it.

    As a lot of cathedral shows point out, Catholic churches follow this model, showing both the earth and the skies, and pointing to Heaven. Icons or saint statues in niches or stained glass saints are supposed to look like the saints and angels looking in from Heaven. The baptismal font represents itself and also the “Brazen Sea,” the little model ocean, and the “Glassy Sea,” the ocean-like, font-like area before the Throne of God. So it’s totally appropriate to have a dome that has pictures of Heaven and God and the saints and angels, or that looks like a beautiful daytime sky, or that looks like a beautiful nighttime sky.

    Alternately, you can have a ceiling that emphasizes the ship-like nature of a church and its nave, or the house/palace-like nature of a House of God.

    Unfortunately, many church ceilings today emphasize that you are bored, that the church’s architect liked Brutalism, or that the weather outside on this particular day is yucky. None of these models of the cosmos are particularly cosmic. They box you in.

  27. Skeinster says:

    Oh, and we have a blue ceiling with gold stars, too.

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