Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Springfield Cathedral Restoration Update

Aside from a few obvious botches, Conrad Schmitt has done their usual outstanding work.

The font in the middle looks silly (and silly is not good for a Cathedral). Chopping up the pews is a complete waste of money (and provides less seating). Is the communion rail still there? Anyone from Springfield?

The project isn't as bad as I had assumed, of course, given that there was approximately zero public input on anything but writing checks for the project, I think it is quite safe to assume that the lack of information was intentional.

Here's Immaculate Conception in all its glory from Mark Scot Abeln.


Elaine said...

Well, you can come starting Thursday and see for yourself. I belong to this parish and am eager to see the final results starting this weekend.

From what I understand, this project isn't just "not as bad" as you had assumed, it's absolutely beautiful :=)

For starters, there's a permanent front altar of exactly the same kind of marble as the main altar and reredos, to replace the "temporary" wooden altar erected after Vatican II.

Also, whatever seating was "lost" by the placement of the font in the center of the nave is made up for by the fact that there seem to be a couple of additional rows of front pews... the sanctuary now curves slightly inward instead of ending in a straight line.

I do not know if the communion rail is still there. I assume it is not, but there would be nothing preventing it being reinstalled if there were sufficient demand for it.

Although putting a baptismal font in the middle of the nave might seem "silly" to you, there is a similar arrangement (a rectangular white marble font in the middle aisle in back) at another local church (Blessed Sacrament), which was also wonderfully restored a few years ago and even hosts regular Tridentine Masses, and no one seems to mind it.

JB Powers said...

Thanks for the update Elaine.

With all due respect, I mind when a masterpiece is monkeyed with. You wouldn't draw a mustache on the Mona Lisa, and you shouldn't mix up the interior of Immaculate Conception.


Elaine said...

Well, I saw the final results this weekend, and it's more than "not bad," it's beautiful. If you are sitting in the back or along the side aisles very little appears different, but everything does look a lot brighter and cleaner.

Yes, the sanctuary area has gotten about 15 percent bigger and the communion rail is gone, but the reasoning behind that (according to the dedication booklets) is to help accomodate the large numbers of celebrants, servers, etc. at diocese-wide liturgies and other large events. Which seems reasonable to me. Also, I was not aware of this until the renovation, but there are three past bishops buried right underneath the sanctuary in crypts and the way the sanctuary is now opened up it's easier to see where their markers are.

There's also been some shifts in the placement of the ambo and the cathedra but nothing jarring or out of place. If the next bishop or a future pastor wanted to do a Tridentine/Extraordinary Form Mass he still could; a few well placed kneelers or pre-dieus would solve the problem of distributing Communion. I do think at least part of the old rail COULD have been saved for just that purpose, but other than that, I have no complaints.

The font in the middle does take a little getting used to, but I think when the Easter Vigil rolls around and they do the baptisms and blessings of the water it will look a lot less "silly" :-) Although I think they woulda done better to have put it either more toward the back, or in front.

The entrance to the atrium is actually pretty inconspicuous; it simply replaced the St. Therese shrine on the south side. St. Therese and St. Patrick have moved over to the other side into spots where old confessional booths used to be, but there are still two other identical confessionals left on the south side plus the regular reconciliation rooms in the back.

The church bulletin encourages everyone to use the atrium for pre- or post-Mass "socializing" so that the inside of the church can be reserved for prayer... which I think is a great idea. Also the atrium connects directly to the parish school social hall, which is great for school Masses, CCD/PSR (which follows Sunday evening Mass), and other events.

So overall I give it an A minus and the only complaints I have are pretty minor. I wouldn't call this "putting a moustache on the Mona Lisa," maybe more like changing her hair color slightly?

JB Powers said...

Thanks for the comments Elaine, but wouldn't an occasional good cleaning have been sufficient for the next 75 years or so?


Anonymous said...

Further update: I took a closer look tonight and am pleased to report that sections of the Communion rail HAVE been saved... they can be seen at either side of the sanctuary and alongside the wheelchair ramps that go up to the sanctuary. It's been polished to a high and sparkling shine.

The "gate" that used to be in the middle of the Communion rail is now in front of the shrine to Mary the Life Giving Spring. Looks like somebody thought it would be a good idea to save it just in case...