Friday, September 05, 2008

Restoring the Sacred At St. Stanislaus

Here at St. Stanislaus, we began a project last month of restoring the high altar and Mary altar in our church. They are wooden, and date to the original construction of the church in 1892.

It's been close to twenty years since any substantive maintenance was done on them, and they've been showing it. Paint was peeling, there were numerous chips and dings, and other wear and tear.

The High Altar before restoration, with statues removed
(all photos may be viewed full-size by clicking on them)

The Mary Altar, with statue removed

So my pastoral council and I decided to begin the restoration work. There is another side altar, dedicated to the Sacred Heart, which we will restore later this fall. Then we will proceed to the angel statues that flank the high altar, the communion rail, and so on.

We recruited a number of volunteers from the parish to do much of the work. We also retained Tim Schoonard of Marywood Studio to provide overall supervision and to do the finer work. Tim has done work here for us before: he made the impressive presider's chair and server's chairs that are in our sanctuary. Tim has also done excellent work in parishes all over Michigan, including the Cathedral of St. Augustine in Kalamazoo. Tim is a solid Catholic, and has a large family, most of whom help him in his business.

The work began a few weeks ago: scraping, sanding, filling dings and dents. Here are Tim and his crew at work:

Tim and his son at work on the high altar

Once the sanding and scraping were done, then the white areas were re-painted. Gold flake paint was used for trim and detail, and gold leaf applied to some select places. One of the advantages of having a large family, as the Schoonard's do, is they can get a lot done at once. Here are some of Tim's kids at work on the Mary altar:

And when some of the family are working, others are praying:

Some of the Schoonards praying the Rosary

The altars have been completed, and they will be officially "unveiled" this weekend.

As part of putting our newly restored altars in their rightfully prominent place, I will celebrate the Masses this weekend and the following weekend (The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross) Ad Orientem. I have spent some time explaining and catechizing my parish about the use of ad orientem in the past few weeks. The re-introduction of this posture is something of a landmark here, as I'm pretty sure the high altar hasn't been used for a public celebration of Mass in 30 years or more.

I'll have photos up of the finished altars, as well as of our historic Ad Orientem liturgies, posted next week!