Dome Sweet Home

And now for something a little lighter, some great news from West Philadelphia.

You may remember the scaffolding in place during my visit to Cedar Park's St. Francis de Sales a few years back. Well, their work is nowhere close to being done--and that's actually pretty good news.

The following WHYY Newsworks story and audio presentation highlight where the renovation is and where it's going. (Thanks to Bob Miller for passing it along.)

Dome complete, West Philly church reaches renovation milestone

Led by head architect Annabelle Trenner, renovations have finished on St. Francis' dome. The remaining renovations the church needs could take 15--yes, 15--years. But the good news is that, thanks to Partners for Sacred Places and some good fundraising--they're actually going to try.

The Project says: about damn time!

It's good to see some action on what is arguably one of the most impressive churches in Philadelphia. St. Francis is unique because--well, it's unique. There's nothing else like it in the city. (If you even try to suggest the Ukranian Catholic Cathedral, I'll drive to your house and punch you in the face.) I love me some St. John the Baptist, but let's be real--it's not radically different from, say, Visitation BVM or St. John the Evangelist or any of the dozen columned Gothic churches around.

But stuff like St. Francis or Our Lady of Hope or Immaculate Conception or even Church of the Advocate--I value them most of all because of how insanely special they are. These are one-of-a-kind buildings.

St. Francis's case is great because of how much damage the place has / had. I noticed some during my visit, but wow. 37 leaks in the roof? Parishioners taking umbrellas to mass? Ay carumba. I'm thankful St. Francis is getting the expert help it needs, rather than wallowing in decay (see St. Boniface) or getting a botch job that dooms it to destruction (See Ascension of Our Lord).

I'll close with one final thought from Trenner, because it's so lovely:

"Philadelphia has all these lovely beautiful secret buildings that people don't know—they're sort of like a hidden treasure," Trenner mused. "More people need to enjoy them and figure out how complicated they are and how beautiful they are."

And that is why I do what I do.