Converting a building for use as an oratory
#1
Hi all, 

This is my first post here and I hoped that you may be able to help me with a question I have.

I have a farm (medium acreage) that I inherited some time ago. There are some buildings (built circa 1800) that were once useful but are no longer of any real benefit to us. I have been scratching my brain trying to find a use for them (their proximity to my home means I don't want to sell them) and I thought why not have a long term project and convert the largest of them into a private oratory. 

I've had so many blessings and graces that an oratory seems like a good way to give thanks. I know it seems like an horrific expense and a little extravagant but its a long term thing and I can't think of a better way to use the building. People put in hot-tubs and build games rooms and other non essential aspects to their home so why shouldn't a Catholic with the opportunity establish an oratory? 

I've looked at the law but I'll be honest, I'm not sure what the exact requirements are. That's where I hope you could assist me. If any of you know the requirements the Church demands in regard to the following questions, I'd be very grateful. 

  1. Do I need the Bishop's permission to actually establish an oratory, even if I intend on it being mostly used privately (I say mostly but if a visiting priest were to wish to offer Mass, I'd like to be able to invite local traditional Catholics over). I guess I'd need the Bishop's permission to reserve the Blessed Sacrament but what about an altar where a visiting priest could occasionally offer Mass?
  2. Can you convert a suitable, existing building for the use of an oratory. I read the rite for blessing a new oratory and it looks fairly important, almost akin to a consecration, but I also saw rites for the blessing of a cornerstone of a new oratory, even a blessing for the site of a new oratory. Do all these rites need to be performed? Can I just gradually over time convert the building for the use of prayer and then get a priest to bless it? 
  3. Are there special laws regarding the decoration of an oratory? I have no intention of making some 1970s nightmare but I heard for example that any decoration of an altar or above an altar must depict biblical saints and scenes rather than from the lives of the saints. Do you know of any resources that have guidelines for the decoration of oratories? 
    Any help or guidance you can offer would be very helpful. Thanks.   
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#2
You can build a private oratory, but you need the bishop’s permission to reserve the Blessed Sacrament there.
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#3
How do define 'above an Altar? I used to attend a Church that had been a Franciscan Parish. The decoration on the wall above the Altar was of Franciscan Saints, First, Second, and Third Order, including St Louis IX, King of France who was a Tertiary.
Jovan-Marya of the Immaculate Conception Weismiller, T.O.Carm.

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