Saturday, March 03, 2007

Parish Transformation

So you have an an ok parish. It isn't particularly ugly, no aliens would mistake it for their mothership and it's not going to pop up in any blogs like Cathcon. But neither is it front page material for the Church Architecture magazine, nor the kind of parish that makes you go WOW! with awe and wonder at God's temple.

It is a fact that in the old days, Churches were never meant to be finished products at the time of their consecration. Things were added on, mosaics would go up on the bare walls and domes, the plain concrete floor would be marbled, a shrine added on as a new saint gained popularity among the parishioners or waves of immigration brought new cultures and new patron saints. In short, like the liturgy, it would develop organically. Perhaps it would all even be planned and the completion would just await incoming money. Westminster Cathedral comes to mind.

But Churches these days are different. What they look like when they are consecrated is basically it. A new coat of paint down the years perhaps, but no more. The 'look' is basically set.

With these facts in mind, Unam Sanctam would like to bring you a bright spot in the current architectural darkness, a comforting anomaly bucking the modern trend, the Sacred Heart Church, Peoria.

Here's an ok looking Church, one that any traditionalist would be proud off. It boasts everything, or almost everything that we clamour for architecturally. Gothic looking edifice. Central tabernacle behind the solid square altar under a baldaquin. Tabernacle lamp. Traditional genuine baldaquined side altars with statues clearly seen. Wooden pews with kneelers.

Choir loft with pipe organ. Lots of stained glass, a bit modern for my taste, but still, at least they're there. A nice set of Stations of the Cross. Traditional wooden confessionals.

What else could you possibly want? Yes, yes, chuck the detached altar, restore high altar and celebrate the Tridentine Mass exclusively. Ok. Besides that. One would think that the priest of this parish would we one happy camper.

Yes. One would think that. But nooooo.....not the parish priest of the Church of the Sacred Heart, Peoria. Not, Fr. Larry Zurek, O.F.M. Not by a long shot.

He imagined a temple that would truly glorify God, a prayer in stone, brick and mortar. And so, through his vision and the grace of God, this:

would be transformed into this.

Even the vaults of the heavens declare the glory of God.

And His light illumines His Holy temple.

The walls are etched with His saving works and record His saving power.

And the very stones sing of His majesty and the wonders of His glory.

From the outer courts,Unto the innermost sanctuary,
Everything declares His holiness before all men.

Do catch the wonderful re-dedication of this temple of God, consecrated to His Most Sacred Heart, presided over by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria.
A wonderful choir, priests all vested properly. Glorious!

This truly warms my heart and shows what is possible when priest and people have the will and desire to glorify God and give Him the best that human hands can produce, a fitting temple for His Holy presence.

Geo gratias, God be praised!


All photos are copyrighted to the Sacred Heart Church, Peoria and are taken from their parish website.

They can be found here.

If this story inspired you, pls drop Fr. Larry Zurek, O.F.M. a mail at and express your support for his vision and courage and thank him for leaving posterity a priceless gem.


Vidimusdominum said...

This is very inspiring. Sometimes we keep focusing on 'deviant' priests and forget the great one out there who are preserving the Church's rich traditions. I will pop him an e-mail.

Now... wonder if my parish priest will do the same.

Andrew said...

That's great, Paul.

I'm glad you liked it. You're right, sometimes, we focus too much on the bad but fail to praise, encourage and commend the good.

Faithful priests with vision and trust in God like that should be encouraged in their fidelity and ministry to the Church.

I've been tempting my parish priest with these pics too =) Haha!

Anonymous said...

I am so going to visit there next year!

What a beautiful gift for us and the future.