04 October 2009

That new church

I mentioned in the post about the Samoa tsunami that our church is being pulled down, and thought I might fill in a few details.

I think it was in about 2000 that Father Martin Bugler (pronounced, as he carefully told us, Bugg-Ler - not like a man who plays the bugle!) - I suppose after consultation with the parish council - announced that it was time to build a new church building. Actually, he had talked about renovating the existing building, but after discussions with the bishop, had said we would build a new building entirely. Father Martin thought it possible we might begin the very next year.

We are beginning, at last - some nine years later. I am not surprised. Money considerations have been the primary reason for the delay.

Last Sunday, the 27th September, was our last Mass in the old building. During the week they have been setting up to use the hall as our church - probably for about a year, I am told. The old church - built in 1879 - is still standing but I presume will shortly be knocked down.

I confess I view the event with some sorrow. This is not principally nostalgia for the old building - although I personally saw no reason why it could not have been renovated and enlarged - but because the proposed new building is ... well, let me just say that a church building, whilst needing to be useable by the people, should be so built that it speaks of the glory of the Kingdom. I am not of the school that thinks only the gothic can properly be a Catholic church. They wanted this church to be a bit 'rounder,' a bit more 'communitarian.' From the little I know of architecture, the basilica style could have achieved the same ends - glory and usefulness - but I should reserve my judgement until I have seen it. There is not, in any case, anything I can do about what will be built - and I had made my views known during the planning stage. Now I look forward to the completion. I suppose it will not be done until sometime late next year - perhaps about Christmas, 2010, which will also mark the end of fifteen years that Susan and I have been communicant Catholics.


John from Canada said...

It's certainly possible for a new "rounder" church (by this, I assume a shorter, wider nave is meant) to be beautiful, raising one's heart and mind to God. I hope your new church building will be such. I've seen various attempts in the Toronto area, some good and some not so good. A typical not-so-good one is like a theatre inside and a "modern architectural statement" outside. It's very hard to pull off a church that is both a modern architectural statement and a beautiful building that raises heart and mind to Christ. It's not completely impossible but I think it is far more often attempted than it is achieved.

John Thayer Jensen said...

We shall see. What I have seen of it make it look like the local council chambers :-( But I've only seen a couple of drawings.

John Thayer Jensen said...

PS - much of the problem is money, of course. They can't (I do not say won't :-)) spend more on it than they can help.

John from Canada said...

Lack of money is a severe constraint, I'm afraid. And lack of money combined with an architect who wants to make a statement, is a guarantee of disaster (I hope that's not your situation). But I hope your church building doesn't end up looking like a council chamber.