Built of Living Stones 238-239: Special Issues in the Renovation of Churches

Let’s tackle the very delicate situation when it is discerned that an existing church building must be significantly altered.

§ 238 § When a parish constructs a new building, there are many options available for responding to the liturgical needs and balancing the values involved. When a parish is renovating an existing worship space, the building itself may limit some of the design possibilities and constrain the parish to choose between options that are less than ideal. In making compromises demanded by the limits of the existing space, it is important for the parish to continue to work with professionals to consider all the possible options and to make the choice that will best serve the requirements of the liturgy and the other parish priorities.

“Alteration of Historic Structures” will be covered in this section and in tomorrow’s post:

§ 239 § Over time, as public expressions of worship change, there is a consequent shift in the demands on the physical space used for the Church’s liturgy. In accord with the norms of the liturgical reform, it is sometimes necessary to alter historic structures that pose a challenge.(Opera Artis 4) In projects of this kind, a delicate balance can be achieved through a selection of designs and appointments that respect and protect the Church’s ancient artistic heritage and, at the same time, effectively serve the requirements of contemporary worship.

No question: it can be very difficult and demanding to work with an older building. In some ways, however, it can be somewhat freeing not to have to make the larger judgments on architectural style, neighborhood footprint, and other matters of that scale. In some ways, more attention can be brought to bear on small, but significant items.

All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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