Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Zeal for Thy House Will Consume Me — Part XVII–Wreck-ovation

July 26th, 2011, Promulgated by Diane Harris

As we draw toward the end of this saga, the results of Fr. Ring’s demolition project are beginning to show.  On August 14, the Bishop and he will come to St. Jan’s to “re-dedicate” the altar and sanctuary.  All the furnishings aren’t in place yet, but at least the plastic is down and one can get a look at it.  In time, parishioners will form their opinions.  Perhaps some who resisted it will accept it.  Perhaps others who vigorously defended the demolition will come to realize they trusted in vain. 

Why is DoR making such a big deal about a “re-dedication”?  I suspect it is because there are no “dedications,” that the diocese is one big parade of church closures, or sobbing grandmothers and wilted roses tied to doorknobs.  WOW!  A photo-op to refute the image!  But it is also like bragging about healing from a self-inflicted wound. 

The beautiful altar has disappeared and there is a table “altar” that is a hand-me-down from the now closed St. Andrew Church in Dundee.  We’ve heard that it had been falling apart (legs coming off) but it has apparently been fixed and patched to now be the St. Januarians’ new altar.  Whether the larger treasured altar is in basement storage or departed on a dump truck is not known.

Then there is what the Bishop most argued for — a ramp behind the altar.  Fr. Ring had complained of clutter and moved the tabernacle (CLUTTER!  OUR LORD?)  So now there are railings which cut across the plane line of the altar in a distracting way.  There is no clear need for the ramp except, perhaps, ensuring that it would be most difficult to ever again celebrate The Latin Mass in this space.

Oh, and somewhere in this new space we hope there’s an organ.  Maybe the pipes are hiding behind what the parishoners call “The Ugly Christmas Tree” or maybe not.  Fr. Ring wrote in last Sunday’s OLOL bulletin (yes, he is now pastor of St. Louis but doesn’t seem to be able to keep his hands off OLOL) that the statues of The Blessed Virgin Mary and of St. Joseph will be moved from Rushville to Naples.  It shows how out of touch he is with how people react.  He opines that it will make parishioners from the (now closed and defunct from treasury draining) St. Mary Church in Rushville “feel more at home” in Naples.  Absurd.  What it will more likely do is remind them how their own church was wantonly and unfairly closed (even though the Bishop never changed his pronouncement that it isn’t closed) and how St. Mary’s was dismembered by OLOL.  Great “homey-ness!”  What is even more absurd is the concept that statues can make people feel more at home!  If I wanted to be at home, I’d stay home.  What would make people feel better, I suspect, would simply be a faithful Mass in a loving community.  But that seems too much to ask.

What else might be picked up and inserted in the new Sanctuary?  Guess it will depend on how many garage sales are in Naples before the “re-dedication.”  Meanwhile, what is shown below are pictures of St. Jan’s before the demolition began, the “Eye-Candy” LaBella drawing which changed the whole appearance of the window lighting, but which wasn’t even in the project, and the current partially furnished view. 

The bright spot is from the skylight.  It looks like LaBella forgot to take into account that skylights create light going somewhere.  They should have been able to figure where.  But that might have been a distraction from their new entry into hydro-fracking.

St. Jan's Altar & Sanctuary Before Demolition

St. Januarius Altar & Sanctuary Pre-Demolition


LaBella's "Eye Candy" Architectural Rendering

St. Jan's Reconstructed Altar & Sanctuary

Feel free to “VOTE”  below with your comments whether you think $300,000 or thereabouts (still undisclosed and unaudited) was a fair investment for conversion of what WAS into what now IS…..thanks.

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25 Responses to “Zeal for Thy House Will Consume Me — Part XVII–Wreck-ovation”

  1. Dr. K says:

    It’s so barren 🙁

  2. christian says:

    What a crying shame!

  3. Kevin says:

    Not to be offensive here, but…what the hell?! It’s ugly as sin. And what is with the point of having those wheelchair ramps up to the sanctuary? How often do they really think someone using a wheelchair will have to go up there? It is a shame. A huge crying shame. Fr. Ring sounds like he just had it out for the parishioners of St. Jan’s, some huge grudge or something. I don’t get it. It seems like he had Protestant designs in his mind as well if you take into account the “table” and the bareness of the sanctuary. And not only that, but that stupid massive wood wall blocks some of the windows.

  4. Kevin says:

    I also went onto the parish website to take a look at what the plans were, atleast the last they were updated. One big one was “altar is focal point of sanctuary.” Well, obviously now it is, but now it is hard to look at because it is TOO bare. And the sanctuary backdrop is supposed to reduce glare. What glare are you possibly going to get through windows designed in that fashion? It just frustrates me to no end. And who cares if the liturgical furnishings don’t have a common design? I’m sorry, but it just frustrates me to no end…and I don’t even belong to the parish. How could that have possibly cost $300,000 dollars to do? Could have hired a couple home-from-college-for-summer guys for a couple thousand bucks and gotten the same look. I mean, I could have done half of that and I’d have almost no idea what I was doing aside from the civil engineering skills I’ve learned so far in college.

  5. annonymouse says:

    No offense, but I find both the before and after pictures to be ugly as sin.

    But I do find the new plan to be an improvement, especially once there are altar linens and a priest celebrating Mass in the picture.

    I agree that $300,000 seems an awfully steep price for what the parish got.

  6. Eliza10 says:

    The mess of railings in the back is bad design, and as has been said – what for?? Just in case you maybe someday have a priest in a wheelchair celebrate Mass? How about a portable ramp for such occasions?

    I agree, the only conceivable “what for” is to prevent Latin Mass from ever being said there. Which makes me want to revisit the Latin Mass. Its been awhile since I have been but it must be a very powerful, holy and spiritually efficacious Mass if Bishop Clark hates it so much.

    The altar table looks worse. What is the point of taking the other one out? It looks far less substantial. I guess that’s the point, right?

    Where is the Tabernacle?????

    The 300,000 price tag for unwanted wreckovation is Bishop Clark doing more of his same! Its SHAMEFUL.

    But we are down to less than one year till Clark’s forced retirement! A new Bishop means a new springtime for Rochester and when our faith is truly taught there will be a swell of people wanting to share their financial resources with a Bishop who wants to us the funds in an honest, faithful and Catholic way. Not upside-down and backwards priorities in direct opposition to the will of the people, like Bishop Clark. Like what he has done here at St. Januarius!

    I am not happy with the $50,000 or even much more that Danny Wegman has paid for this. I guess the man has too much money to throw around without discernment, or concern for what the people of the DoR want. Yes, I like shopping at Wegmans like everyone else, but I have been going a lot less since I read about this contribuiton some months ago. I am looking at everything that makes Tops looks better. Closer to my home is a plus. More things for less money and better sales means real savings. More variety on the shelves. Less crowded store and parking lot. Less elite; a more humble experience, and who doesn’t need more of that? And they need my patronage more than Wegmans does. Thanks for the pictures of St. Januarius to remind me: the more trips to Tops the better. And there are many terrific farm markets for produce in the summer!

  7. Eliza10 says:

    Annonymouse wrote:”No offense, but I find both the before and after pictures to be ugly as sin.
    But I do find the new plan to be an improvement…”

    You think they are ugly but the first picture reminds me of what is beautiful about the sanctuary at Holy Spirit Church. That Church has to work with some of the ugliest architecture ever. But its been transformed by the people to express its Catholic meaning in a way that the original architects did not intend. Their sanctuary, as it has been arranged, points to Jesus and to the holiness of the Mass. So does the first picture here of St. Januarius.

    I wonder what you find to be an improvement in the latter pictures? I am not seeing it. Can you tell us? Perhaps you are looking at DiBella’s “eye candy” pic. That is artificial, pretend lighting making it look appealing but it can’t b reproduced in real life. Its a rendering.

    Let me tell you what I see. Look at the first picture. The altar is substantial and central and look, the tabernacle is center on the back wall. The whole sanctuary is up high so that everyone seated even in the back, even children and short people in the middle have a good chance to see whats going on during the Mass. It is four steps high! Its elevated. An elevated santuary is a wonderful thing! You would notice it if you were sitting there. Perhaps not so much observingin a picture. The new sanctuary is now lowered to just two steps high. How is that an improvement, annonymouse?

    Have you ever been to a play where the stage was low, and you had to crane your neck and move about to see the action? Its annoying. But the point is to “level the field” since “the people” are more equal to the Body of Christ on the altar. The DoR wants us to be “like God”, or as important. But I really don’t think the people will feel more important at Mass now that the sanctuary looks less important. They will just feel like they can’t see now.

    Annonymouse, another change is the altar table. Do you think the new one is an improvement?

    Also, annonymouse, the new sanctuary has those railings. Take another look at them. Do you think that’s an improvement?

    Just wondering what you are finding you like. I am not seeing it.

  8. Bernie says:

    A pastor should probably back off from a proposal if it meets with any strongly felt reaction in the negative. It’s never a good idea to fool around with the parishes’ worship space unless everyone is on board. Without even considering the validity of his criticism of the existing chancel, Fr. Ring was no doubt wrong to proceed with so drastic a renovation.

    Having said that, and trying to be objective, I would suggest that the before chancel was, indeed, ‘busy’ which in and of itself is merely an aesthetic problem if it does not detract in a significant way from the altar, tabernacle, ambo and crucifix. The before chancel had that kind of aesthetic problem. There were no real liturgical (or “in line with Vatican II”) issues at stake.

    If there was a glare problem with the windows then no doubt a filter over each window would reduce it.

    The railing adds to the ‘busy-ness’ because of its light tone and decorative spindles. If a railing was still needed it could have been replaced with a simple, functional black iron one.

    The visual aesthetics of the before chancel would also have been improved by including an altar frontal (and sides) with a coordinated (similar material or pattern/color) veiling of the tabernacle (the tabernacle should have been veiled, anyway).

    I would keep flower arrangements and trees, etc., limited and scaled-down in the before chancel.

    The celebrant’s chair and ambo are somewhat troublesome in the before chancel but I can’t offer a suggestion without experiencing the actual space.

    LaBella does a very good job of picking up on visual aspects of an existing structure and then repeating them in proposals. Most obvious in this design is the upward sweep of the ceiling which is repeated in the back wall of the chancel. That the chancel ‘sweep’ also seems to flow downward from the crucifix is not at all bad. The Roman or Latin liturgy emphasizes the reenactment of the sacrifice of Calvary and so I am pleased to see a crucifix has replaced the risen Christ image. (The Resurrection is emphasized in the liturgies of the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches.)

    The visually distracting railings of the ramp are, of course, a disaster. A relatively low wall would probably have been a little less distracting. (This whole ramp thing has gotten out of control. Whatever happened to people helping those who physically could use someone’s help?)

    Imagine the after chancel with the tabernacle on the back wall, behind the altar.

    The renovated chancel does have a minimalist look to it so common to protestant churches. Other than the inclusion of the crucifix, the after chancel just doesn’t look Catholic.

    What did you get for your $300,000? A lot of expensive renovation you didn’t need, and a great deal of unnecessary emotional upheaval and division in the Church.

  9. Eliza10 says:

    There is one thing I like better about the new. The old has the “Risen Christ” above the altar. The new has what appears to be a true crucifix. This is a very surprising improvement. To placate the protests?? I am really curious.

  10. Eliza10 says:

    On the other hand, this concession is one a pastor can be told by the DoR to remove easily at little or no cost, while the lowered sanctuary and ramp full of unsightly rails in the Tabernacle’s place is a much more difficult repair for a parish to take on. I guess Bishop Clark is rushing to push through his agenda, and wreck as many parish churches as possible, in ways that will be difficult to remedy, before he is forced to retire from his comfortable career and position of public prominence.

    Diane wrote: “…Why is DoR making such a big deal about a “re-dedication”? I suspect it is because there are no “dedications,” that the diocese is one big parade of church closures, or sobbing grandmothers and wilted roses tied to doorknobs. WOW! A photo-op to refute the image! But it is also like bragging about healing from a self-inflicted wound. ”

    Yes, what is the deal with the re-dedications? WHO CARES!!! Really, I think you have it Diane: the man LOVES photo-ops. It can go in the Catholic Courier, or the cooperative D&C, and thus Bishop Clark can do what EVERY certified Narcissist loves to do – rewrite reality to his own liking! The Re-Dedication is a visible way to show that the agenda he pushed at St. Januarius is something the people “embrace positively!”.

    There must be some way to visibly show otherwise…

  11. MichaelL says:

    New article by Thomas Peters (the American Papist):
    Bishop Hubbard to Celebrate Mass for Dissenting Gay/Lesbian Group

  12. christian says:

    After looking at the revised sanctuary and additionally reading that an old altar in need of repair was fixed for use in the sanctuary, I wondered-Who pocketed the money? That is not a $300, 000 renovation!!! The Christmas-tree shaped wooden-paneled backdrop and focal point of the altar looks plain and bare-not good at all! I would question how $300,000 was used in that renovation!!! Maybe that would be a good question to bring up to Bishop Clark when he comes with Fr. Ring to dedicate the sanctuary.
    I would expect a lot more in a sanctuary for $300,000 like man-made pond, fountain/baptismal font, beautiful railings, new beautiful altar, superior materials, and a good focal point to the altar. There was no need to put that massive wooden paneling in as an altar backdrop. It’s a travesty that so much money and emotional upheaval was spent on a sanctuary which didn’t need fixing!

  13. Ink says:

    Okay, so a couple points I’d just like to note:
    1. No matter how you look at it, those windows are inherently distracting. Pretty, yes. But distracting. I see the point of shielding them behind the altar–it’s basically just putting in a reredos, which a number of old churches have. That would make sense if it were the only thing done. Though a good crucifix is also pretty important.
    2. Moving the tabernacle–not a good thing. I could redesign the “renovation” and make it still in the center. The stairs which were previously present, also, allowed the altar to be seen more clearly–I’d be willing to bet that almost everyone was able to look up and Adore Him at the Major Elevations during the Consecration.
    3. I’m going to be nice and give LaBella the benefit of the doubt and say that I’d imagine that architectural renderings are to allow people to see all the new fixtures–if the lighting makes it difficult to see in pictures, or causes it to be dark, that will make the rendering all the more difficult to draw. However, they did not include the light fixtures, which is strange.
    4. …why is there a skylight in a church…? I kind of want to know the reasoning there.

  14. christian says:

    In case you did not get my opinion fully-I like the Before Sanctuary better than the After Sanctuary. I don’t like the After Sanctuary.

  15. annonymouse says:

    Eliza –

    Note that this is all subjective opinion, my opinion. Reasonable people may disagree, so long as the design is in accordance with Church prescriptions.

    The “before” sanctuary is cluttered. The tabernacle is not visible at all to many once you have a priest standing at the altar. The wood railings are ugly. The white thing in front – what is it? The trees and flowers and Risen Christ statue and white-draped crucifix – there’s way too much going on in way too small a space – it’s a mess.

    The after is much cleaner. The altar is going to be covered in altar linens and will be fine. Given the small space available, the less substantial altar works. The tabernacle is still in the sanctuary, just left of the altar, which is an improvement (preferable, in fact, in that it makes it much more accessible for private devotion). You certainly don’t have to search for it like in many wreckovations. And as to the comments that the tabernacle belongs behind the altar – that is not what the Church prescribes. The tabernacle is not the focus of the Mass – the action at the ambo and the altar are. As for the new metal railings, I didn’t even notice them, so they aren’t problematic to me.

    Feel free to disagree but I consider the “after” to be less of a disaster.

    But all things considered, I agree with Bernie’s last comment – “What did you get for your $300,000? A lot of expensive renovation you didn’t need, and a great deal of unnecessary emotional upheaval and division in the Church.” I think it’s an improvement, but I wouldn’t spend $300 large for such improvement. I’d rather save the $300K toward knocking the whole thing down and starting over.

  16. annonymouse says:

    Note that the Church does not forbid the tabernacle from being behind the altar; it is just not prescribed. What is prescribed is that the the tabernacle is in a position of prominence, visible and accessible for prayer/devotion. The “after” picture complies nicely.

  17. Ink says:

    Maybe my eyes are failing me (in my old age, of course =P) but I can’t see the tabernacle anywhere in the after picture.

  18. Eliza10 says:

    I think she is looking at DiBella’s “eye-candy” proposed computer-generated image.

  19. Eliza10 says:

    annonymouse wrote: “Note that the Church does not forbid the tabernacle from being behind the altar; it is just not prescribed. What is prescribed is that the the tabernacle is in a position of prominence, visible and accessible for prayer/devotion. The “after” picture complies nicely.”

    Yes, that’s what the Church says, and Clark likes to keep telling us, he milks it for all he can.

    As a convert, I embraced what the Church actually teaches (not what the DoR teaches – if I had been exposed to only that, I NEVER would have converted!).

    It was as shock to me to go into parishes, already wreckovated by Bishop Matthew Clark, and have to HUNT for the Tabernacle. The people have protested so loudly that Clark now puts them “off to the side” when possible, as a compromise between what the people want and what HE imposes. Yet, “off-to-the side” confused me, too – why was Jesus “off to the side”?? Clark claimed his wreckovations and new architecture were supposed to reflect Catholic teaching. Well, what is central to Catholic Teaching? The Eucharist! Why is the tabernacle not front and center? Clark has pretty words, but his actions don’t match his words. He is a disingenuous man.

    As a newbie to Catholicism, this is SO obvious. Its like being new to a community or a family and being able to instantly see what everyone else is used to being in denial about. So I guess many DoR Catholics are used to to Jesus being “off to the side”, and think its okay, which is what Clark wants with his changes — to impose the changes offensive to the faith of the people according to his own individual agenda, and EVENTUALLY the people will get used to it.

    Well, I for one will NEVER get used to it. Jesus belongs front and center, so that our Church teaches our faith in its placement of its Holiest treasure, AND NOT SOMETHING DIFFERENT. “Off to the side” is something DIFFERENT!

    In order for the architecture of the Church to teach what we actually teach, the Sanctuary should be set apart and elevated. Reducing the elevation of the sanctuary is the work of the devil, IMO!

    So, when I see the “after” picture, with a permanent “off-to-the-side” area constructed for Jesus, and a ramp with railings installed to ensure its very difficult for the people to ever get Jesus front-and-center again, what I feel is SHAME.

  20. anne says:

    All of those pictures hurt my eyes. Could someone post a photo of St. Stan’s?

  21. Barnyard says:

    What kind of sheep dog, with apologies to actual dogs that guide sheep, would destroy a church that 70% of the faithful did not want destroyed? Especially when they do it just before they are leaving for another assignment? Who or what is/are his masters? Does not sound like something a loving shepard would do. I know Bishop Clark does not like Latin masses. Maybe he can’t understand or speak Latin. I have been a carpenter/contractor most of my life and $300,000 sounds like a grossly over priced job. $150,000 to $200,000 would seem to be a more logical price and that is considering a ‘worse case scenario’. It would seem like somebody had their hands in the pot. To top it all off, the new set up is ugly with a capitol U. It looks like the Lord is being pushed back in favor of the priest. I thought we worshiped God, not His servant

  22. Kevin says:

    Barnyard, I was thinking that exact thing. It sure looks like the priest is being elevated above the Lord with how the whole thing is designed.

  23. Diane Harris says:

    Great comments! I’ll try to answer a few of the questions raised, as best I know. St. Jan’s used to have a large, beautiful Crucifix. Then at sometime (not sure if before or after Fr. Ring came) a Risen Jesus was displayed during Eastertide. Then (after Fr. Ring came) one year the Crucifix never came back. The Crucifix now being placed comes from a side entrance and seems smaller than the original.

    Sometime after Fr. Ring came the Tabernacle veil was dispensed with. The flowers in the Sanctuary were because the picture was taken at a 50th Anniversary Renewal of Vows.

    The ugly white birdbath in front of the altar in the upper left picture is a temporary stand created after the lovely stone baptismal font was removed. Raised Baptist, Fr. Ring wanted an immersion font, but apparently that is in the part of the project delayed or squelched by the Bishop due to lack of funds. Was there a cost overrun? We don’t know yet. If indeed the $ 300,000 was all spent on the needless Sanctuary renovation, the more needed wall divider isn’t getting done. Don’t know if the project parts that were dropped will ever be done using even more funds or not.

    There is no one in the parish who needs to approach the altar even for EEM using a wheel chair. Totally meaningless, unless Wegman’s motorized shopping carts are going to be ramp buggies?

    It is hard to know if what Fr. Ring did is retaliation or just plain very bad taste. I hope St. Louis has a good taste committee as a counterbalance. WIth even more money to throw about, who knows what could happen?

    The Tabernacle will be on the shelf to the left, right near the exit door. The ramp starts to the left of the Tabernacle, winds around behind it and then ascends to the altar.

    When Fr. Joe Catanise took over St. Leo the Great in Hilton, the first thing he did was reinstall the Tabernacle front and center. God bless Fr. Joe!

    Tried to answer as best I know. Now here’s a question. What should this mess be called when referring to it, especially among the Naples community? It is awkward to keep calling this “The New Sanctuary” and soon it won’t be “new.” To call it The Catholic Wreckovation is a possibility, but unfortunately links the good (Catholic) with the bad (Wreckovation). We’re looking for something which clearly designates what we’re talking about, and will give some kind of token prize for the best idea (maybe a book by Pope Benedict?)

    Editors Note: I took out the other specific suggestions so as not to encourage any title in particular.

    Any ideas to avoid just saying “that new sanctuary most of the St. Jan’s folks were upset about.” Ideas are welcome!

  24. Eliza10 says:

    “To call it The Catholic Wreckovation is a possibility, but unfortunately links the good (Catholic) with the bad (Wreckovation).”

    By this reasoning, either “Father Ring’s Wreckovation” or “Bishop Clark’s Wreckovation” should work fine!

  25. Raymond F. Rice says:

    Diane !!!!!

    I think you missed something!! I’ll bet at that price (300G’s), the altar railings are solid gold painted black!!! It’s how the DoR is probably hiding its assets!! LOL

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