Saturday, March 14, 2009

Feast (and Famine) of Tabernacles

MUHS Magazine Winter 2008 features the dedication of the new Marquette High chapel. See A state-of-the-art worship facility. The pictures used for the cover and article leave the impression the new chapel's aisle runs down the long axis of the rectangular space. The photos in the Then & Now retrospective show this is not the case. Unlike the one-time large chapel, and like its smaller replacement, the new chapel is sideways, that is, has the altar on the side of the rectangle.

Notice of blank walls below clerestory windows, now a common feature in churches. They put me in mind of Mass long ago in the "temporary" basement church at St. Veronica. Someday, we said, we'll build a real church. Unfortunately someday didn't come until the 1960s, and so the new church had windows set just under the ceiling, giving the impression of still being in the basement. The 1980s church at St. Al's has windows only along the gable. Not long ago one of our Xaverian fill-in priests made homiletic use of our worshipping "in a basement".

On the plus side, as recent MUHS alumnus Andy commented earlier, the tabernacle of the new MUHS chapel is returned to a central location. That's one for Eppstein Uhen Architects. By contrast, in the simulated discussion with parishioners for the 2001-2002 St. Al's building project, I questioned again putting the tabernacle in a separate chapel, rather than in the main church. The response of the architect from Plunkett Raysich Architects included his assertion that "We're not going back." Maybe he knows his client; it looks like Marquette High never quite got to the point of eliminating the Crucifix, and St. Al's has never gone back to regularly having one.



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