Second in a Series of Articles

Feb 26, 2020

This is the second in a series of articles to update and inform the congregation of the renovation project for St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church.

The rich history of Catholic worship space traces a path through every person and place where the liturgy has been offered.  The architecture of our churches always reflects our theology, our understanding of why we do what we do when we celebrate the Eucharist.  The earliest gatherings of Christians were in homes; small communities of people gathered together to share the Word and break the Bread.  Christ was present! Over the centuries, more complex and defined theologies developed.  With this came the emerging of architectural and building styles, but always reflecting an understanding of God as revealed in Jesus Christ by the power and working of the Holy Spirit.

Catholics who live and worship in the United States in the twenty-first century celebrate a liturgy that is essentially the same as that of earlier generations but significantly different in its language, style, and form.

[1] The church building is designed to be in harmony with the church laws and serves the needs of the liturgy.  The church is a house of prayer in which the Eucharist is celebrated and the Blessed Sacrament is reserved.  It is also a place where the faithful assemble to worship Christ in sacred celebration, so it should be built in conformity with the laws of the Church and dignified with noble beauty and intrinsically excellent art. The general plan of the building reflects the Church that Christ gathers there, is expressive of its prayer, fosters the members’ participation in sacred realities, and supports the solemn character of the sacred liturgy.[2]

Over the last 160-years since St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception church was built, along with the renovation of the church shortly after Vatican II, the expression of our sacramental theology has changed.  Our Catholic culture has also changed; no longer can we depend upon family as the primary transmitter of our faith.  With that said, people need the stability and presence of their faith even more.  In addition, building materials have changed, enabling our structures to remain strong and lasting.  At the same time, just as cultural norms and needs demand that we adjust our domestic and business buildings, they also demand that we adjust our churches.  (160 years ago, we would not have thought about air conditioning, indoor plumbing or handicapped accessibility, all things we expect today.)

Driving our renovation plans, above all, is our faith and our need to be formed as, and to gather as, a faith community.  In addition, our current church needs structural, HVAC, electrical and plumbing modifications and updates.  Civil laws come into play when it comes to parking, accessibility issues, fire protection, security and other building requirements, as well.  Demographics of population and age also must be taken into consideration.  All of these things have been taken into careful consideration as we plan for the renovation of our church so that it will serve our needs and the needs of future generations. 

[1] Built of Living Stones: Art, Architecture, and Worship, Guidelines of the National Catholic Bishops, par. 4.

[2] Built of Living Stones, Art, Architecture, and Worship, Guidelines of the National Catholic Bishops, par. 29.




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