St Theresa's background information

Fr Reynolds of St Theresa's has kindly written:

Having read your comments, I thought it opportune to add a little background to our renovation projects at St. Theresa.

Unfortunately, when the current parish church was built in the early 1980's, the budget was quite limited, resulting in a straightforward, if bland, structure.

The remodeling of the chapel was promted by two concerns: the need for additional confessionals (there was only one), and the gift of a stained-glass window of our patroness, Ste. Therese of Lixiuex. Given the constraints of the original building, Duncan did an admirable job of transforming and ordering the space.

The chapel occupies one transept of the church, separated from the nave by a folding wall which can be opened on the weekend to supply more seating for Sunday Masses. This explains the presence of chairs, which can be turned around, rather than pews, which cannot. Be assured that the chairs have kneelers.

The Blessed Sacrament is moved from the side chapel to the main tabernacle for the weekend Masses. This arrangement is far from ideal, but is an unchangeable constraint, apart from building a whole new edifice.

The remodeling of the sanctuary of the church was prompted by the need to provide for the installation of a new pipe organ. I also wanted to install a proper tabernacle and crucifix. Given that the church does not have a loft, with no possibility of inserting one in the existing structure, a forward placement of the organ was the only realistic solution.

In order that the organ not be the center of one's attention, a new emphasis needed to be given to the altar. This was accomplished by the addition of an engaged baldacchino, which also shelters a new tabernacle (the former was located to the side) and crucifix. The inspiration for the sanctuary design was a monument by Sansovino in the church of San Salvator in Venice. Our version is simpler, and of wood rather than polychromed marble.

The sanctuary itself was expanded slightly to either side, and a new altar and ambo were designed to better harmonize with the new architecture. The baptismal font was left in its original location, as moving it to the entrance of the church would have required significant effort and expense.

The dramatic colors were purposely chosen, and while they are bold in comparison to the white, in person they are nevertheless serene, adding a calming, pellucid quality to the chapel and church. The unfinished ovals above and to either side of the altar now display the painted arms of our archbishop and the Holy Father. The faux-marbre colums are quite stunning in person. We now have six candlesticks on the latar, arranged in two groups of three.

There is a sense in which the church renovation resembles a stage set (shades of the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, perhaps?), an inevitable impression in that the entire church was not remodeled in a manner consistent with the sanctuary. However, given that the church may need to be significantly expanded or even replaced in the next ten years due to the rapid growth of our suburban setting, a limited scope of remodeling was warranted.

The cost of the projects was fairly modest, and much lower than one might think. An absolutely necessary part of that equation, however, was the work and creativity of a competent architect.

As for the provision of celebrating Mass ad orientam, I am in general sympathy with that desire. Nevertheless, one cannot make that shift overnight. A baldacchino (or tester, or corona lucis) is a step int he right direction.

In the near future, I hope to post more pictures on our parish website:

Please keep us in your prayers, and do pay us a visit, if you should be in the Houston area.

P.S. We will begin construction on a Stroik-designed school building this fall.

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