Church Design

“LIFT UP YOUR HEARTS”

You may find yourself lifting your eyes and mind when in St. Cecilia Church and the color “red” in the furnishings encourages the people to respond, “we have lifted them unto the Lord.”

This is particularly striking in the Main Worship Area where the eye is attracted from the floor to the ceiling in the Sanctuary.  One climbs up three steps to the site of the action of the liturgy.  Moving upward  the eyes find the Tabernacle, then the crucifix and three windows with the blue of the morning, yellow of midday, and red of sundown helping us to remember that God is with us at all times.

The altar is plain and sturdy, representing Jesus.  It is unmovable.  The pillars here and elsewhere in the facility are reminiscent of those in the “little white” church which this one replaced, as is the arch design.

The crucifix is that of the risen Christ with His head high and looking directly at us, arms outstretched as if to embrace us as individuals and a community.  His mother and St. John who were with Him at the crucifixion are pictured at either side of His hands; INRI is inscribed above His head. Below His feet is a pelican feeding her young with her own blood, a symbol from early Christianity:  Jesus redeeming us with His own blood.

The lifting theme is evident throughout the facility, particularly in the design of the windows and the pillars which are raised slightly from the floor.  When the space was being discussed, someone commented that “when you have something to say, you step right up and say it.”  This became the theme for the ambo from which the Scriptures are proclaimed.  The lector/presider/cantor step up on a raised platform to announce God’s Word.

The windows in the St. Cecilia Room (former Day Chapel), Shrine (now called the Meditation Room)  move from dark to light until disappearing into undefined space.  Looking high above the doors between the Gathering Space and the Main Worship Area, one sees the stained glass window of St. Cecilia which was moved from the previous building; it had been donated by then pastor, Fr. Joseph Buzek, and the women’s bowling team at the time in honor of Father’s parents.

To promote unity and active participation by the entire assembly, the pews are arranged in a semi-circle.  The musicians (choir, cantor, instrumentalists) are on the same level and all of the liturgical ministers come forth from the congregation so that the liturgy is one in which all (clergy and laity) engage.

One enters the Church through Baptism so the Baptistery is located at the entrance of the Main Worship space.  It is in the form of a cross, allowing for Baptism by immersion, particularly adults at the Easter Vigil.  The catechumen descends the steps; the priest (or deacon) submerges him/her three times with the words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father,” “… of the Son …,” and “the Holy Spirit.”  The individual “dies with Christ” and “rises” sinless to leave the water from the other side.  Infants and children are baptized with the water flowing from an upper pool.  Tiles with images of fish symbols of Christ and His followers are along the bottom.  The Holy Water holders were gifts of parishioners and brothers. Lee and Charlie Meyers, in memory of the Joseph Meyers family, probably in the ‘40s.

The Holy Oils are displayed in a lighted niche (called an ambry) in this area: chrism (used in ordinations and Confirmation), sick­ (Sacrament of Anointing), and catechumens (to seek God’s help by adults preparing for Baptism). The oils are blessed by the Bishop at the Chrism Mass on Tuesday of Holy Week and brought to the parish church as part of the Holy Thursday liturgy.

Written by Carlene Hamilton