Watch this short film, below, as Bishop Earl Boyea dedicates a new altar upon the newly renovated sanctuary at Saint Patrick parish in Brighton.
“When people come into a church, they are coming into a place where it's God's house, where it's a special place, it's set apart, it's sacred and the sacredness is evidenced by the beauty that lifts our hearts and minds to God,” explains parish pastor, Father Mathias Thelen.
“This is a place of prayer, a place of encounter with God, and what the beauty does is it draws our hearts and minds to the Lord, so that we can really give our hearts and minds to him and then receive what he has for us.”
The renovation of Saint Patrick church began under the previous pastor, Father Karl Pung. In more recent times the project engaged the services of Michigan-based architect, Ben Luther. His vision seemed quickly to capture the imagination of parishioners who gave both enthusiastic feedback and generous financial support.
Father Thelen says he is “really thrilled about how much this was a community effort”. The new marble altar was dedicated by Bishop Boyea during an episcopal visit to Saint Patrick on the evening of May 11.
“I'm just very grateful to have been a part of this project, I feel really blessed,” says Ben Luther, “I know that on our own, we're not capable of anything good. All good things come from God. So I just feel really blessed that I was able to be an instrumental part of what I think is a very beautiful project.”
The newly renovated sanctuary features artwork commissioned from craftsmen and craftswomen from Italy including a mural which surrounds the central crucifix and tabernacle depicting the Holy Mass as described in Chapters 4 and 5 of the Book of Revelation.
That angelic vision is flanked by two earthly scenes featuring Saint John the Baptist and Saint Mary Magdalene both of whom, notes Ben Luther, “are figures in the Bible that remind us about the way that we ought to approach Our Lord”.
“They have a proper disposition, they have a proper humility, in their encounters with Our Lord and that's a reminder to us that when we approach the sanctuary, when we receive Our Lord in the sacraments, we should have that same type of disposition that they had towards Our Lord when he walked the earth,” says Ben.
The sanctuary is then watched over by four statues of four saints to whom there is particular local devotion: Saint Michael the Archangel; Saint Patrick; Saint Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The four saintly statues are due to arrive from Italy in coming weeks. At present, they are represented by temporary replicas made from cardboard.
“God is beauty,” says Father Thelen, “God is the beautiful one. And everything that he creates, has beauty. And when we worship God, we worship Him, not just with our minds, but with our hearts and beauty lifts our hearts and minds to God, so we can truly worship and surrendered to Him and receive all that He has for us.”