Cimply Putting It…
Inspired By Faith...Almost three years ago we began our capital campaign to do some improvements to our facility. After open parish meetings, our council decided that the first priority was our office area and sacristy. For the size of our parish we had an inadequate space to fulfill our parish ministries. In the summer of 2012 we accomplished that task. Now this summer we are going to do some updating of our nave. Several years ago, when Bishop Carlson was our Bishop, he mandated that whenever we are doing a renovation of our nave we must include kneelers in the project. Since many of you were not around when the parish started, Msgr. James Doyle has graciously shared the reason why we did not have kneelers when the church was built. Truly no one has inspired the faith of our parish more than our founding pastor, Msgr. Doyle. So here it is in his own words. Make it a great week. clc
Kneelers as part of the renovation of St. Michael Nave, along with some history. Msgr. J.M. Doyle
Few priests are even accorded the honor of founding a new parish which includes organizing the families and overseeing the new building. I was given that honor in 1979. I was also given a young priest with a full head of black hair who taught at O’Gorman and shared half time with the new parish. That was your present pastor, Fr. Charles Cimpl. I couldn’t have done it without him and our friendship still flourishes.
We were given 450 families (150 from Cathedral and 300 from Christ the King). There were a few who didn’t like the idea until they saw how much fun it was to build a new parish. No one ever fantasized that number would grow to over 2300 households today. Some are not within our parish boundaries, but have voted with their feet to belong to our parish family. Neither could I of ever done it without the generous, talented and dedicated parishioners who volunteered to be part of the Parish council and later building committee. We felt very fortunate that O’Gorman offered their auditorium for our Sunday Masses and Peace Lutheran offered their facilities for our Saturday night Mass. We organized new neighborhoods into six “Little Parishes” and two Franciscan Sisters from Rochester (who were teaching at the time at Augustana) trained the Little Parish leaders.
We invited a priest from the East who was an authority on building new Church structures which were happening by the hundreds across the country. He told us God doesn’t need a home...He already has millions in every corner of the world in the form of Temples, Cathedrals, Churches, Pagodas, shrines, Basilicas and chapels. BUT the pilgrim parish of St. Michael needs a home. Fr. Dick Voscho to this day is on special assignment by the American Bishops, counseling them on building new Church structures. He was the main author of a book by the American hierarchy entitled “Catholic Art, Architecture and Liturgy”. The building committee were each given a copy and we made every effort to follow the guidelines. He gave us suggestions in choosing an architect. Twelve were interviewed. The one chosen was Edward Solvic who had a national reputation for building church structures according to the guidelines of the Bishops. I have always been so grateful we followed the mandate to hire a professional acoustician from Chicago for our sound system and placement of acoustical materials throughout it. Except for an occasional naughty microphone, the acoustics are wonderful. (What good does it do to build a beautiful church if the sound system is awful, as happened in a Fargo parish the same time we were building.)
Vatican II guidelines also asked that new Church buildings have a separate chapel for reservation of the Eucharist, which we follow to this day. The guidelines of the bishops also recommended that new churches be built with some flexibility, which meant chairs without kneelers, so the huge space could be used for other activities besides Sunday Mass and high holidays. There was a critical fuel shortage in the 70’s and those in authority said it bordered on a moral issue to only heat huge spaces used only for a dozen or so hours a week. Kneelers are rarely found in Europe and large churches are used for many other events as theatre, symphony concerts, large meetings of people, etc. St. Michael has utilized the Nave for many events of the past. But alas, the recent American Bishops want the kneelers back and insist they be installed when a renovation is made of the Nave. It naturally disappoints me. But our Lord didn’t found His Church to be a democracy. That’s why a wise old priest mentor of mine used to say “Laddie Buck, it’s not always easy to be a Catholic”. jmd