Saturday, November 21, 2009

Building New Churches

On Saturday 21 November 2009, the Fraternity of Saint Michael of the Catholic Studies Men's House at the University of Saint Thomas made a pilgrimage to North Saint Paul, MN to visit the parish of our interim chaplain, Father Dan Griffith. The Church of Saint Peter consecrated their new sanctuary in 2008. Father Griffith said the 9am Saturday morning Mass and then showed the men of the Fraternity all the art, architecture, planning, and nuances that went into building the church.

The parish dedicated their capital campaign to the Blessed Virgin on the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, 1 January 2006. The new sanctuary incorporated the old structure. Half of the old sanctuary has been turned into a daily Mass chapel featuring the altar, statues, etc from the old church. The back half of the old church is now the narthex of the new. Many strong symbols of the Pilgrim Church stand out in the architecture. New art was commissioned: a statue of Saint Peter for the narthex, excellent reproductions of Caravaggio paintings, icons of Christ the King, Mary Mater Ecclesiae, and Saints Peter and Paul. Throughout the neo-romanesque sanctuary are incorporations of recycled materials, mostly from the Boston Archdiocese. The immersion baptismal font in the narthex was created from a communion rail, for example. Perhaps the greatest evidence of the Divine Hand and Maternal guidance were in the surprises along the way. The only baldichin avaliable in the country fit the dimensions of the apse perfectly. One of a king stained glass windows featuring the life of Saint Peter, in storage for about 15 years, precisely fit the dimensions of the window openings, all unplanned.

The organ is a mix of pipe and digital. A comprimise due to costs, space was left avaliable to slowly add the pieces to create a full pipe organ in the future. Several windows have yet to be inserted. More icons and art will adorn the sanctuary in the coming decades. The new sanctuary stands for the thriving Church of God alive and well in the 21st century.

The new church marks a more authentic interpretation of the Second Vatican Council. It stands for an organic development of the Church's art and architecture in the third millenium. The church brings the faithful to the center and reason for its construction: Jesus Christ. There is no doubt of the Salvation History and Paschal Mystery boldly proclaimed by its believers.

For more information on the Church of Saint Peter visit