After spreading the word through our Parish Council, we had a group of 13 St. Charles parishioners who attended the Vietnamese New Year celebration at St. Patrick’s two weeks ago. I think that we were all touched by the warm hospitality of the Vietnamese community, the beautiful clothing, processions and singing at Mass, and the gracious way we were welcomed at their dinner party.
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A discussion is in the works concerning renovations in our church. The first priority: after years of a leaking roof, we need to repair water damage. Our ceiling looks awful and the upholstery on the pews is even worse. A second priority: I remember my mother’s first reaction when she came to visit St. Charles: “Why don’t you have a tabernacle in your church?” The tabernacle should be a prominent feature in a Catholic church. Ours is legitimately located in the chapel, but it is not visible for most people in the church. It seems to me that a simple solution would involve reconstructing the tabernacle so that it opens front and back and then making an opening in the sanctuary wall with the tabernacle placed in the wall, visible and accessible from both the church and the chapel.
With those projects in mind, one thing is leading to another. The ceiling repair is going to require scaffolding and temporary removal of pews. If we remove pews, we have the perfect timing to replace the carpet which is now 18 years old and has snags and tears in many places. If we put down new flooring, this would be the perfect time to add a hearing loop, a wire which Is placed under the flooring and connects to a transmitter, allowing those with hearing aids to tune in to our sound system. If we alter the sanctuary wall and move the tabernacle, we will need to make some changes in the shape of the sanctuary platform and replace the worn carpet there. An architect pointed to the hanging white object above the altar, called a tester. A tester is intended to highlight the position of the altar in a church. Ours does that, and it also contains speakers and lights. However, ours is not at all attractive. If we ever want to replace our tester with something more attractive, the time to do that is when we have scaffolding in the church and the ceiling under repair.
With all of this under discussion, we have asked Bill Heyer, an architect who specializes in Catholic churches, to give us advice. (Bill designed the new chapel at St. Francis University, the chapel now under construction at St. Vincent, and he designed the renovations at Our Lady of Good Hope.) He is currently coming up with ideas and drawings for us to consider.
No decisions have yet been made on any of this. Before final decisions are made, there will be plenty of parish consultation and discussion, cost estimates and parish fundraising. Stay tuned.