February 6, 2015
Why is each church not built the same? The architecture and furnishings for each parish worship space reflects something of the community who gather there. When Catholic churches were first built in the United States, the community often constructed buildings that spoke to their cultural heritage. For example, Irish immigrants, would use statuary and colors associated with their Irish roots and traditions within their churches. The architecture itself would speak to similar structures from their homeland. The local customs and rituals would also be reflected in some of the aesthetics of the environment and decorations. Craftsmen from the community would often build the sanctuary furnishings, using similar materials that were found in their ancestral churches in Ireland.
New churches today follow national and archdiocesan guidelines in building projects. They also reflect something of the community that is building them. The materials that are chosen, the style of architecture, and the furnishing designs help create an environment that speaks to the "personality" and heritage of the people who gather there. Rural churches will not look exactly the same as metropolitan churches, cathedrals in different regions of the country will differ in style and design, but all will contain the same elements for worship, i.e. one altar, and ambo, presider's chair, font, tabernacle, etc. WE create a house for God's Church and the space continues to shape us as the Church, the People of God.
-- Pam Johnston (10/12)