Saturday, August 18, 2007

Not quite catholic

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has an article on a renovated Catholic church in the inner city, All Saints Catholic Church (formerly St Agnes church), 4051 N. 25th St.

The church now is seen by many parishioners as a more inviting, more colorful, more participatory worship site. And it got enthusiastic praise from more than 100 architects, Catholic liturgical designers and others who attended a dinner and service there this month as part of a national FORM/REFORM conference, said Terry Wessels, conference director.

There is a specially designed sound system for the church's well-known gospel choir, which sings behind the altar. The new altar has been brought forward, and there are theater-in-the-round seating, ceiling-lowering lengths of fabric suspended above the center aisle and stylish sound-absorbent panels on the side walls to dampen reverberations.

There also are several finely executed artistic and decorative touches, virtually all created in the area.
Yes, theater-in-the-round, choir behind the altar, no wonder the architects love it. Some other fine touches:
  • "An ethnic Christ-on-the-cross from Africa was removed from a wall, restained, placed on a new cross and suspended over the altar below a large encircling corona."

  • "...a large quilt with freeing-of-the-slaves symbols of the Underground Railroad for a side niche in front of the parish's relocated statue of an African Mary."
Wouldn't the church actually feel more inviting with actual representations of Christ and Mary rather than false representations condescendingly made just to make a majority of parishioners feel good?
Gladies Johnson, 27, who was baptized at the church when it was St. Agnes Church, is trying to keep an open mind.

"In a way, it's not home for me," Johnson said. "I wish it was back the way it was. I'm really used to the older church. This new church, I'm growing on it slowly."

Iesha Frazier-Christie, 16, doesn't like the changes and says a number of other teens agree. They liked the old look.

"It felt more homey," said Frazier-Christie, an usher, Eucharistic minister and youth group member. "This feels like the Chris Brown concert I went to at the Bradley Center."
Renovation was surely needed at the church, and we should be happy with the Church's commitment to the inner city with this renovation. It's a happy moment, but I think this is the one time I agree with the children rather than the adults.