FishEaters Traditional Catholic Forums

Full Version: Ugly Churches' Days Are Numbered
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.


Another happy-inducing article, this time from the url=http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/restoring-sacred-architecture-to-a-higher-plane/]National Catholic Register[/url]:




Restoring Sacred Architecture to a Higher Plane
William Heyer works to draw faith communities heavenward.
by TRENT BEATTIE 06/25/2014




In the years following the Second Vatican Council, the gathered local community was often pointed to as the new focal point of worship, while Jesus Christ was literally set aside.

According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, "In accordance with the structure of each church and legitimate local customs, the Most Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a tabernacle in a part of the church that is truly noble, prominent, readily visible, beautifully decorated and suitable for prayer” (314). “Consequently, it is preferable that the tabernacle be located, according to the judgment of the diocesan bishop: a.) either in the sanctuary, apart from the altar of celebration, in a form and place more appropriate, not excluding on an old altar no longer used for celebration; b.) or even in some chapel suitable for the faithful’s private adoration and prayer and which is organically connected to the church and readily visible to the Christian faithful.”

This has been interpreted in many forms, with the Blessed Sacrament frequently being placed in a side chapel or in a corner. Sacred architecture and art that emphasized the sublime mysteries of the faith were ignored, defaced or disposed of in an attempt to modernize and “humanize” the Church.

Yet this overemphasis on man actually led to a demeaning of his value and purpose, according to architect William Heyer.

The University of Notre Dame-educated father of six likes to remind people that Catholic architecture is supposed to point man heavenward. A church building, he says, should take the natural laws of architecture and complete or “supernaturalize” them, a reflection of how Jesus Christ in becoming one of us completes human nature and makes us fit for heaven.

Heyer, who has been part of the design and restoration of chapels and oratories for the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest, recently spoke about the eternal significance of sacred architecture with Register correspondent Trent Beattie.



Have you always been interested in architecture?

I was drawing houses and various architectural scenes from a very young age. I had an eye for art, but also a mind for math, an indispensable combination for an architect. My father noticed this, especially when I was in middle school, so he encouraged me to pursue architecture.



When did you get involved with sacred architecture?

I grew up in Allegany, N.Y., in a Catholic family. We attended St. Bonaventure, a lovely brick-and-stone Gothic church. Sadly, it was renovated — or “wreck-o-vated,” to borrow a popular term — while I was there in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

It was disturbing to see a beautiful and functional church taken apart inside, but I couldn’t explain in detail why. I just knew, without any training in sacred architecture — and even at a young age — that something was wrong.

I then attended Portsmouth Abbey School, a preparatory school in Rhode Island run by the Benedictines of the English Congregation. The campus and church, St. Gregory the Great, were designed by modernist architect Pietro Belluschi, but the monks had a beautiful liturgy, and, in shape, symbols and natural materials, the church was still recognizable as being a place of Catholic worship.

After Portsmouth, I went to Pratt Institute, a college of architecture and art in New York City. I soon realized that the architecture world had a very different understanding of what church architecture should be, if they talked about church architecture at all. The language of modernism — a style of architecture I was new to, yet which was pervasive since the 1920s — was well-entrenched and insuperable at that point (the late 1980s). It rejected the architecture of history —  period.

There was a growing conflict between what I believed and what I was being taught. The modernist architecture I was taught had rules and was striking enough, but it was unfulfilling and completely devoid of beauty; and, since I was also in the process of embracing my Catholic faith in a more complete way, the clash of values became a painful trial for me.

I was blessed at the time to be part of St. Agnes Church in Manhattan, which was staffed by many holy priests. One of them in particular, Father George Rutler, gave me a firm foundation on which to build my vocation in life. His instructions helped me to accept the call of helping to bring back desperately-needed beauty to church architecture.

Vox Wrote:Ya know, Fr. Rutler has done a lot of good in this world. God bless him!

During my fourth year at Pratt, I was able to study in London. I went to Mass every Sunday at the London Oratory, also known as the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. There, I truly felt like I was taking part in a heavenly liturgy.

[html]It was so easy to pray because the liturgy and the architecture were so completely fused, it seemed. It drew me into a world radiant with beauty, meaning, inspiration and hope.[/html]


I had been in beautiful churches before, but the London Oratory was especially moving for me. I think my patron, St. Philip Neri, certainly had a hand in this. I would later reflect that the founder of the Oratorians had chosen to guide me in my life and career, rather than me choosing him.



How did you end up at Notre Dame, where you earned a master’s in architecture?

After I completed my undergraduate studies at Pratt, Father Rutler advised me to contact Thomas Gordon Smith, the chair of the architecture school at the University of Notre Dame. I think Father Rutler must have said something to Professor Smith, as well, because I received a postcard from Smith before I remember sending a letter.

Smith ended up hiring me to work in his office, and then, from 1999 to 2001, I studied for a master’s degree at the Notre Dame School of Architecture. I was inspired by Smith, who became a mentor for me in so many ways and is now one of my closest friends. I was also able to meet and be encouraged by other Catholic professors of sacred architecture like Duncan Stroik, David Mayernik and Dino Marcantonio.

During my graduate studies, my wife and I took our first child on an extended pilgrimage to Rome. I was already fortunate to be in Notre Dame’s architecture program, but being in Rome was a blessing within a blessing. It was an extraordinary time for prayer, study, reflection and wonderful discoveries in sacred architecture. I visited the 50 principal churches of Rome as a personal — and architectural — devotion during that Jubilee Year in 2000.

One of the many highlights was hearing Pope John Paul II address artists in St. Peter’s Basilica. His famous "Letter to Artists" was penned in 1999, but he spoke again to artists the following year as a personal gesture towards us. I remember my vocation as a sacred architect was even more firmly established at that time.

It became clear to me in Rome — with the inspiration of St. Philip Neri and then John Paul II — that order and beauty, symbol and memory, were not things that could be simply added to life, but were truly essential aspects of life. [html]The human heart is drawn to contemplation of God through the beauty and order of nature as an imitation of the Divine, and through the arts and architecture, these things can and should be revealed. [/html]This is a noble profession to dedicate one’s life to, and I’m very privileged and joyful to be able to take on my role for the Church through my practice and teaching.



You’ve been an adjunct professor of fine arts at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, since 2010. Do you find that your students are open to the importance of beauty?

The students are serious-minded men preparing for the priesthood, and they are enthusiastic to learn more about sacred architecture. It is one of the more popular electives in the College of Liberal Arts. We discuss the origins and growth of the language of Catholic architecture and the aesthetic and constructional issues of church-building today.

One of the basic questions I ask my students is if they think beauty is in the eye of the beholder. They’ve usually heard the expression, so there’s often a tacit and tentative acceptance of it, but they soon discover that it’s not really true. Physical objects actually possess beauty, as spiritual objects do, but we don’t always recognize it sufficiently. Our occasional lack of perception, however, doesn’t take any of the beauty away from the object. It is still there. This is an essential but forgotten Catholic understanding of the world: that beauty is objective, and we can learn to see it.

I also like to challenge seminarians and priests on the understanding of beauty. [html]Every Sunday, we get to hear sermons about truth and goodness, two obvious and essential perfections of God. But a third perfection of creatures that points to the infinite perfection of God, according to No. 41 of the Catechism — beauty — is often forgotten in this triad. Truth, goodness and beauty reinforce each other and are inseparable, as God in the Holy Trinity is inseparable, so when beauty is missing, truth and goodness are incomplete.

Cardinal Ratzinger wrote about these things in The Spirit of the Liturgy (one of the books we use in class): “The Logos [Christ] himself is the great artist, in whom all works of art — the beauty of the universe — have their origin.” If Jesus himself is the great artist and the source of all art, we really need to step back and reconsider beauty in the hope of grafting it into our lives, just as we try to do with goodness and truth. Beauty can no longer be left to the side. The Church must again elevate her and honor her.[/html]


Does your own parish have a beautiful church?

St. Catharine of Siena here in Columbus was built in 1962 and is an enduring sacred building in stone. Many people have said St. Catharine’s looks modern, but the inspiring thing is that it was designed according to traditional norms of sacred architecture — even though most other church designs had embraced a functional, cold modernism by this point in the 20th century. It is cruciform in plan, has a wonderful canopy over the altar modeled on that of the basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls in Rome and is — as we classical architects say — organically developed from historical models. What stands out to the common visitor is that it seems a little simplified, and its ornament is not your typical Gothic or Romanesque in style, yet it is traditional, deeply symbolic and yes, beautiful.

I find St. Catharine’s a wonderful place to pray. I can “read” the language of the architecture without effort and communicate with God peacefully amidst it. That’s the key question with any church: “Am I brought into the presence of God in such a way that I am inspired to converse with him?” The triad of truth, goodness and beauty in the church building and liturgy should ultimately draw the faithful into more profound communion with the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.



What was it like to be chosen to oversee the renovation plans for the Chicago shrine of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest?

To be a part of the Shrine of Christ the King at the institute’s American headquarters in Chicago is humbling and filled with many blessings. I was involved in designing the institute’s St. Patrick Oratory in Kansas City [Mo.] and have been assisting with the designs for their St. Stanislaus Oratory in Milwaukee, but this project in Chicago is on a truly monumental scale. St. Gelasius, the former name of the church, had been the first National Shrine of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. It fell into disuse and disrepair for a time, and then in 2003, Cardinal [Francis] George entrusted the institute with the great work of making St. Gelasius fit for Catholic worship again. The project is moving along, and we hope to have it completed in the coming years, with the assistance of generous donors.



Are the days of the ugly church over?

More and more Catholics are becoming aware of the modern conflicts in faith and architecture that I once struggled with, and now they want a serious and enduring sacred architecture that expresses truth, goodness and beauty for the life of the Church. So [html] I’d say that the days of the ugly church are numbered[/html] — as long as we continue to want these things.

[html] Historically, the life of a town used to be organized around the monastery, church, cathedral and so on, but now the church is often seen as one among many important types of buildings. Catholics need to understand and profess again that sacred architecture is not just a matter of utility or artistic preference, but of the revelation of our faith in built form, a symbol of Christ, his Church and our ultimate home in heaven.

Sacred architecture makes the living Church visible, which means making Christ’s presence visible — which means, also, that I have an awesome responsibility as an architect for the Church. [/html]

we can only hope, but you know the arguments that beauty is relative, that this ugly piece of art is actually traditional (when it's not), it is too much money when we should be focusing on the poor, etc.
In the Diocese of Phoenix most of the new churches are being built in a traditional style.
St Margaret Mary in Bullhead City was finished in 2011.  It took them years to get the church built.
They have a TLM once a month.



Realizing the Vision
A church that looks Catholic inside and out
by Father Peter P. Dobrowski


In 1992 a projections study by the parish council showed that St. Margaret Mary parish in Bullhead City, Arizona would need a church for a thousand people within ten years. However, when a parish town-hall meeting was called to discuss building a new church, the feelings were negative. Many of the people at the meeting had retired from California parishes, where they had built two and even three churches. They didn’t want to build another.

As discussion progressed it became evident that the parishioners were disappointed by the modernistic architecture of church buildings they’d had to support in the past — and a formula came out that changed the mood: build a church that looks Catholic inside and out.

Fund raising and the search for a design began.

After a false start when a proposed half-moon design for a new church was rejected outright at another parish town-hall meeting, the building committee and I, as the pastor, began a serious study of Church architecture. We learned about the School of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

In August 1998 Professor Duncan Stroik of Notre Dame was invited to Bullhead City to present a talk, “Look to Rome”, on using the churches of Rome as models for building churches in the United States. After touring the area, however, he suggested that the parish use the missions of Mexico as models, because their Southwestern style would match the Mojave Desert where the parish is located.

He also liked the site for the proposed church — on a hill overlooking Arizona Highway 95, the city hall, the high school, junior high, and three elementary schools — and he indicated his willingness to become involved with the project.

In December 1999, the diocese agreed to accept Duncan Stroik as the design architect, and CCGB Architects of Phoenix as the architects of record.

At the time, Environment and Art in Catholic Worship, an influential booklet advocating Modernist church architecture, published in 1978 by the US Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy, was still considered the “bible” for constructing new churches. Thus the diocesan Office of Worship insisted on revisions to the plans (like a sloped floor and no baldachino) that we knew the parish would reject. So I appealed directly to Bishop Thomas O’Brien, who agreed to meet with the architect, the head of the Office of Worship, and me, on May 21, 2002. During that meeting, a holy hour was held at the parish, with 73 people participating. At the end of our meeting with the bishop, he announced that he didn’t care if the floor was flat or sloped. This unexpected decision — to allow a flat floor in a new church building — allowed St. Margaret Mary parish to proceed with plans to build the church they wanted.

There was another problem with the proposed design, however. The bell tower and the roof of the church would exceed the height allowance in the city’s zoning ordinances and would make it the tallest and highest building in Bullhead City. However, the mayor and city council revised the ordinances — and one of the city councilors even gave the parish a ten thousand dollar pledge for the construction of the new church.

Raising money became the challenge and it took two capital campaigns to pay for constructing the outside of the church, as designed by Duncan Stroik. To complete the interior, the diocese (now under Bishop Thomas Olmsted) allowed the parish to take out a 30-year bond, and a team of architects designed the interior.

- See more at: http://www.adoremus.org/1111Dobrowski.ht...5G7D6.dpuf

[Image: 12369852395_4035e48992_z.jpg]
[Image: 12369849745_8763b485c0_z.jpg]
[Image: St.-Margaret-Mary-Bullhead-City-AZ-altar...cchino.png]
I wish the Diocese of Richmond would follow suit. Almost all the Virginia Beach Catholic churches look modernistic, and the only magnificent one around for miles is the FSSP parish, St. Benedict's, which is in nearby Chesapeake.
Reminds me very much of my parish back in Houston, St. Ann's.  Lovely building.

[Image: 5380099706_f9139526b2_z.jpg]
(06-29-2014, 01:09 PM)CatholicLife Wrote: [ -> ]In the Diocese of Phoenix most of the new churches are being built in a traditional style.
St Margaret Mary in Bullhead City was finished in 2011.  It took them years to get the church built.
They have a TLM once a month.



Realizing the Vision
A church that looks Catholic inside and out
by Father Peter P. Dobrowski


In 1992 a projections study by the parish council showed that St. Margaret Mary parish in Bullhead City, Arizona would need a church for a thousand people within ten years. However, when a parish town-hall meeting was called to discuss building a new church, the feelings were negative. Many of the people at the meeting had retired from California parishes, where they had built two and even three churches. They didn’t want to build another.

As discussion progressed it became evident that the parishioners were disappointed by the modernistic architecture of church buildings they’d had to support in the past — and a formula came out that changed the mood: build a church that looks Catholic inside and out.

Fund raising and the search for a design began.

After a false start when a proposed half-moon design for a new church was rejected outright at another parish town-hall meeting, the building committee and I, as the pastor, began a serious study of Church architecture. We learned about the School of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

In August 1998 Professor Duncan Stroik of Notre Dame was invited to Bullhead City to present a talk, “Look to Rome”, on using the churches of Rome as models for building churches in the United States. After touring the area, however, he suggested that the parish use the missions of Mexico as models, because their Southwestern style would match the Mojave Desert where the parish is located.

He also liked the site for the proposed church — on a hill overlooking Arizona Highway 95, the city hall, the high school, junior high, and three elementary schools — and he indicated his willingness to become involved with the project.

In December 1999, the diocese agreed to accept Duncan Stroik as the design architect, and CCGB Architects of Phoenix as the architects of record.

At the time, Environment and Art in Catholic Worship, an influential booklet advocating Modernist church architecture, published in 1978 by the US Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy, was still considered the “bible” for constructing new churches. Thus the diocesan Office of Worship insisted on revisions to the plans (like a sloped floor and no baldachino) that we knew the parish would reject. So I appealed directly to Bishop Thomas O’Brien, who agreed to meet with the architect, the head of the Office of Worship, and me, on May 21, 2002. During that meeting, a holy hour was held at the parish, with 73 people participating. At the end of our meeting with the bishop, he announced that he didn’t care if the floor was flat or sloped. This unexpected decision — to allow a flat floor in a new church building — allowed St. Margaret Mary parish to proceed with plans to build the church they wanted.

There was another problem with the proposed design, however. The bell tower and the roof of the church would exceed the height allowance in the city’s zoning ordinances and would make it the tallest and highest building in Bullhead City. However, the mayor and city council revised the ordinances — and one of the city councilors even gave the parish a ten thousand dollar pledge for the construction of the new church.

Raising money became the challenge and it took two capital campaigns to pay for constructing the outside of the church, as designed by Duncan Stroik. To complete the interior, the diocese (now under Bishop Thomas Olmsted) allowed the parish to take out a 30-year bond, and a team of architects designed the interior.

- See more at: http://www.adoremus.org/1111Dobrowski.ht...5G7D6.dpuf

[Image: 12369852395_4035e48992_z.jpg]
[Image: 12369849745_8763b485c0_z.jpg]
[Image: St.-Margaret-Mary-Bullhead-City-AZ-altar...cchino.png]

When I was in Southern California, I used to go to St. Margaret Mary.  It is a lovely building.  It took 25 years for Fr. Dobrowski to get it realized.  I just hope the next pastor (Fr. Dobrowski is over 70, a really funny, gentle priest too that wears his faded cassock when in the Church) will recognize the beauty of it (and perhaps celebrate the TLM more frequently).  There are somethings I feel could improve like a better painting job and the little side "altars" I wish they would have kneelers  or have made them a little bit bigger for devotion, but the altar is absolutely magnificent.  Also, I like how the choir reminds people not to clap for them at the end of Mass too.  It is definitely one of the better NO parishes I have ever been to (he uses the Benedict arrangement on the altar and almost always uses the Roman Canon).  I didn't get to go a TLM there, but I can only imagine what a fully Missa Canta would be like there. 

I don't know something I have noticed though with some of the nicer, newer Churches though is that I don't think they will age very well.  Like when I was in Denver and used to go Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Littleton, I was thinking to myself that the paint job and the fake stained glass it had will look tacky in 20 years and I found the lighting a little awkward. Though I think a lot of time, it is a matter of the community who is building the Church.  Like when I was a wee young lad going to St. Anthony's in Paterson, it is this magnificent Italian Church. When I lived in Pittsburgh and went to Holy Wisdom (St. Boniface) it is this spectacular building built by German immigrants in the 1920's.  For all the talk about building beautiful churches, I think 'Mericans lack a taste in aesthetics. 

I would to see if we can get more Churches that were more stone and less brick and wood structures, like not massive polished and chiseled stone like cathedrals get, but like the ones you could see out in rural England, Old Norman country parishes 
Thanks for posting Vox :)

This reminds me of a book a friend recommended to me regarding sacredness and how modernity is affecting it. It is a philosophical book that's premise is that aesthetic beauty is objective and points to God. The name of the book is The Soul of the world

I haven't read the book myself but according to my friend it is a worth read book.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Soul-World-Roger-Scruton/dp/0691161577/ref=lh_di_t_dup?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

[Image: thesouloftheworld_zps539b6a6e.gif]