St. Boniface Lives (Sort of)

We go from one St. Bonnie's to the other, courtesy Project fan Zach Warren from Blessed Theresa of Calcutta parish in Limerick.

We will be dedicating our new church this coming Saturday Oct 27, 2012. Last time I wrote I could only say what artifacts were being moved from St. Boniface, not the space which they will be housed in. Now not only can I share that information, but I may SHOW you the space. As many of us from Blessed Teresa have stated "They do not build Church's like this anymore" It truly is a beautiful space. No it is NOT St. Boniface, nothing could ever replace that beautiful piece of architecture, and it is the highest of sin to see it be nothing more than a parking lot now. But it still continues to be in your words "The Church that will not die", and it is my belife that it lives on in the Church at Blessed Teresa. Attached our
Pictures of the church they are in this order:

1. Out side shot of church
2. Wood wall seperateing Narthex from Church (From St. Boniface
3. Close-up of stained glass in wall (all interior glass was made to
match this pice is a St. Boniface original
4. Main Door in wood wall into the Church
5. Panorama of Main Church
6. Panorama of Main Church (Priest Point of View)
7. Confessional Room made from parts from St. Boniface confessional

Well, that was awfully nice of him. See said pictures below:

I'm of a torn mind with these things. As glad as I am to see this stuff reused and not shoved in a dank Archdiocesan locker somewhere, it's just another reminder of Boniface's tragic, needless death.

Still, I should still give props to newer churches like Blessed Theresa and Holland's St. Bede for at least trying to embrace some of what once made church architecture special. I can only hope more of them take that approach--and that it's not solely at the expense of city parishes.

Ruminations on the Germantown Closings

"You think not? We Earth Men have a talent for ruining big, beautiful things."

— Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles

 

So how am I feeling today?

Kind of lousy, admittedly. Not as lousy as the ex-members of Immaculate Conception and St. Francis of Assisi are feeling today, but lousy nonetheless.

And why should they (or I) feel any differently?

The death of a parish is never an easy thing, especially if it's as architecturally, historically and socially important as these two. The powers that be in the Germantown Catholic community are saying all the right things about carrying on as a solidified entity, but come on, let’s be honest.

This hurts like @%^#%$ hell.

And that’s coming from someone with a lot less skin in the game. Sure, as a chronicler of churches great and small, I have a somewhat unique perspective here. More so than most, I see the trends, the strengths and weaknesses of these places. I know what they mean to the people who rely on them for everything.

Yet, I’ll never feel the same way about either parish as did someone who lived and breathed them for decades. As devastated as I am by the loss of two of this city’s best churches — and make no mistake, I am a very forlorn Project this morning — it pales in comparison to others.

If you are, or were, a member of either parish, you have my heartfelt condolences. I’d like to hope the new parish at St. Vincent can do what the three separate parishes cannot, but even under the best of circumstances, things will never be the same.

As to the day itself, I will admit that I wasn’t able to make it to St. Francis of Assisi. The scheduling gods weren’t particularly kind, in that the closing masses for both parishes were placed close enough to each other that it made visiting both a little difficult, so I was only able to make good on a pre-existing appointment to see Immaculate off into the Long Goodbye.

(So if anyone has any firsthand reports from St. Francis, I welcome them.)

The parts I saw of the mass (more on that in a bit) were the usual mix of sad and bittersweet. Some tears, some utter disbelief at how so great a monument could fall. The turnout was far more than the parish has seen in a long time — by my estimate, probably 1,100 or so. Incredibly, still not enough to fill the church completely, but a far cry from the vigil masses that attracted barely a dozen people.

What followed was a nice if somewhat slow affair, hampered by a sweltering church (why weren’t the windows open?) and a decision to try to do and be everything for everybody. By the hour mark we hadn’t even gotten to the presentation of the gifts, and when they announced a plan to have everybody in attendance — yes, all 1,100+ present — go up and bless the altar with holy water, I knew it was time to peace out before I died of dehydration.

(They said the church would be open until 4 — I didn’t think they meant the mass would last that long! Ba-dum ching!)

So, yeah, it wasn’t as focused and efficient as Most Blessed Sacrament’s send-off, but hey, when it’s your last mass, you’re allowed to do whatever you want. And I was able to get some great last-minute shots and indulge in some classic Project sneaking, so that’s a win there.

But really, sadness aside, it was nice to see such a magnificent church full of life one more time, before it fades into obscurity, decay and about a half dozen of the Project’s least-favorite theorems. When I look back on Immaculate, I won’t remember the emptiness. I’ll remember that shot you see above, packed to the gills with devotion.

One last Sunday, just like so many they used to have.