Monday, July 22, 2013

Greensburg - 2

     Continuing the days of the journey at Saint Paul Parish (which we unofficially renamed The Church of Saint Paul) I would like to speak of the church renovation that we modestly brought about.  The church school complex was built at the same time, with what would have eventually been the gymnasium used as the church.  It was the size of a large gym, with an upper tier of windows of inexpensive colored glass that opened by means of a large crank handle on each side.  They did not always work and were always coming "off track".  The altar was at the far end, with the pews facing front, the organ and choir on the left side where the side altar would be and the tabernacle on the right side by the side door and sacristy.  It was a long way from the altar to the back of church. The sanctuary was carpeted and the rest of the flooring was tile.

     What we did was to rearrange the pews to provide a space in the midst of the assembly, build a one step platform to provide some height, place the organ and choir in the old sanctuary area, and build a visible reserved area for the tabernacle, picking up on the screen pattern behind the crucifix.  We used the old baptismal font for the tabernacle base, used oak from the old altar for the new square altar and ambo, oak from unused pews for trim, and purchased carpet for the aisles and green ceramic tile for the sanctuary floor.  We built a baptismal font and placed it where the tabernacle had been, including a pool with running water.  All of this was done with volunteer help by dedicated parishioners and others, and done for little cost (carpet & tile).  I have included a few pictures.  It worked out well, and is a more intimate setting for liturgy, although you do have to get used to surround visual eye contact.

The sanctuary before renovation
The crucifix with background painted to match the ceramic tile of the sanctuary.
Painted by Father Stephen West who was in residence.
View of the new set up, with tabernacle area on left, organ in former sanctuary area, and altar nearer the people.
A direct view.
A view in the opposite direction - during the blessing of Easter Foods.
     We did many other fine things over those years, including festivals, dinners, the building of a picnic pavilion on the grounds, lighting in the parking areas.  As I mentioned in the previous post, the Saint Paul School became a part of a Regional Catholic School named Aquinas Academy that strengthened our programs and continues to provide a strong Catholic School presence in Greensburg.  We took an empty classroom on the first floor and created a Children's Liturgy of the Word gathering space and built an Atrium for the Good Shepherd program.  And before my time was finished in Greensburg, we entered into a Campaign to eliminate the debt and provide seed money for the future, which proved successful.  My successor, Father Dan Mahoney built upon that, stressed good stewardship and left the parish in solid financial shape.  He also replaced those inefficient windows and even more importantly air conditioned the church.
     There were many other things done, countless moments of blessing and grace, friendships built and strengthened, and the Kingdom lived.  For it all, on this part of my journey, I am most grateful to God and to his people.

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