Friday, October 5, 2007

Gotta love great before/after Catholic church restorations!

One of my favorite things to look for on the internet (or in the blogs I read) is a good before/after story regarding a renovation or restoration of a Catholic church. (Renovation would be correcting, as much as possible, an originally bad church design, and restoration would be correcting a previous restoration that stripped a good church of it's transcendence and Catholicity - a sort of re-restoration). Fortunately, a few have come to my attention in the last couple days, thanks to Matthew over at the Shrine of the Holy Whapping. If you haven't read in the past, I have a post on what should constitute a good Catholic church design, just as background material.

Here is one before/after story that Matthew just posted on regarding a renovation of a church in Miami, originally quite terrible as a Catholic church (i.e. it was built in the 60's, 70's, or 80's). The wonderful pastor there worked with the church he had and only a $300,000 budget to produce something fantastic. God bless him!

Here is another profiled by Matthew a while back, a project in Peoria, IL commissioned by the wonderful Bishop Daniel Jenky, who is doing a lot of great things down in that diocese. The original church interior actually wasn't too bad, but now it is vastly better. Quite impressive.

My brother, Evan (now a seminarian at the St. Paul Seminary) was a FOCUS missionary for two years, one of which was at Bradley University in Peoria. When the family and I drove down to visit him there, he was able to show us St. Mark's Catholic church, which is connected to the Newman center down there. Under the guidance of Bishop Jenky, and the priests at the Newman center, this church was re-renovated to correct the serious errors of the past. This had been a wonderful church in the distant past, but in the silliness of the post Vatican II era was renovated to look like this...
You have to love the bright fluorescent stripes and, the removal of iconography, the carpet, and the kumbaya stained glass windows (you can't see them very well here, but Evan showed us a couple that hadn't been replaced yet when we were there and I vaguely remember one that was a red and yellow sun with beams emanating all around, and another that looked like a rainbow). Seriously, I can't comprehend what people were thinking; this is as bad as I've ever seen.

Here's the re-renovated church. It, on the other hand, is as good as I've seen. Seeing it in person is breath-taking.
Wonder who did the murals and liturgical design for this masterpiece? I have too, ever since I saw it in person. Fortunately, I now know, and I've added them to our "Catholic Architects and Artists" section of the sidebar. It's Murals by Jericho. Incidentally, they also did the artwork for both of the other church renovations referenced in this post.

I love seeing this type of work, as it gives me ideas for paintings and iconography in our own, in-home chapel. Praise God that we are living in this time of liturgical renewal!


Anonymous said...

Bishop Jenky had nothing to do with the renovation. It was led by Fr BenReese who at the time was the pastor. The Newman center next door at the time was staffed by the Brothers of the Community of St John and they had a wonderful relationship withour parish but they also had nothing to do with the renovation.
The parish, the Pastor and LOTS of prayer helped this restoration through. It was a miracle that it occured because we always were a poor parish with not many finances, but the money came by the grace of God.

LeeAnn said...

Wow, who needs to go to Europe to see a beautiful church with one like this right here? Beautiful!


Magnificent restauration of a Church! It proves we still can use the good and true Sacred Art.

I love the paintings inspired in the art of the Blessed Fra Angelico (live in Italy in the 15th century).

Sorry about the english's mistakes... I'm brazilian.

Beate Fra Angelice ora pro nobis.
benedicat vos Deus.