Sometime after 8:00 pm Saturday August 27 a valve on the toilet in the bathroom in the narthex or entrance area into the Old Side of the church blew out. Thousands of gallons of water flooded the Old Side of the Church as well as DeSales Hall right below.

It was encouraging to see how many people answered my call for help on Sunday morning. Even a stranger driving by stopped to help. Many pushed and swept up the water, removed debris, and vacuumed. Thanks to Ken and Maria Fly for the use of so much equipment. Ceiling tiles, HVAC ductwork, and carpet has been destroyed and needs replaced. I understand the need to replace the carpet. Our insurance will cover most of the cost. It distresses me that choices have to be made now. I would have preferred to take a look at  the big picture first.

  • It is my intention to appoint an Ad Hoc Sanctuary Committee to work with a Liturgical Consultant and me in developing a plan to make our church sanctuary even more beautiful than it already is. These are some of the topics to be considered:
    flooring for the sanctuary (the area surrounding the altar and tabernacle;
  • replacing the ambo (pulpit) to better compliment the altar and tabernacle;
  •  a new baptismal font to better compliment our marble altar;
  • relocating the presider’s and deacons’ chairs so their backs are not to the tabernacle;
  • there is no (and will NEVER be any) thought of moving the tabernacle;\
  • designing chairs, tables, pedestals etc. that reflect the beauty of our church;
  • recommendations for the entrance and narthex;
  • other suggestions that may arise.

The task we are undertaking requires much prayer, thought, and research. The committee will be educating itself on what the documents the Catholic Church give us about art, architecture, and the worshipping environment in our churches. We will consult the General Instruction of the Roman Missal which includes directions and prayers for the celebration of the Eucharist. We will also reference the document, Built of Living Stones: Art, Architecture, and Worship ( c. 2000, USCCB), which provides direction on a variety of subjects such as the layout of the sanctuary space (altar, ambo, tabernacle, etc.), the baptistry, gathering spaces, furnishings, and art and statuary in the church.

How much money are we talking about? It all depends on choices we make: carpet, tile, marble Some money has already been set aside for this purpose by a benefactor who may or may not choose to remain anonymous. Insurance will help. When people see the plans, many will eagerly give to make it happen. The people of Saint Francis de Sales have always been generous with special projects like building the school, buying the old A & P store across the street, and paying for an organ that will outlive us all. Some may choose to donate the ambo, chairs, tables, art in memory of an individual, couple, or family.

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston requires every parish doing any work to the church building use the services of a Liturgical Consultant. Besides coming up with creative ideas, this professional insures that the guidelines of the Catholic Church regarding Art and Architecture are followed. Typically, a fee of several thousand dollars is charged. This person also helps insure that a priest doesn’t choose chartreuse, magenta, or canary
yellow colors! I have worked with Gardiner-Hall Associates on three different projects through the years at Saint Leo in Inwood as well as Sacred Heart Churches in Bluefield and Princeton.

It is said that the Chinese ideogram for crisis is a combination of the ideograms for danger and opportunity. Together we can make our ruined floor and basement an opportunity to enhance our very beautiful sanctuary.

Fr. Paul



Here are links to explore:

Gardiner-Hall Associates webpage:
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