Monday, November 10, 2008

Another new parish church that is a monument to modernism, of both the architectural and theological varieties

Yesterday’s Sydney Catholic Weekly had a parish profile of St. John the Baptist’s Parish, Woy Woy, whose curate is Rev. Fr. John Hill. The parish has a new church building; from the outside it makes one think of a steel version of the Colosseum, with a large wedge attached with a cross surmounted (presumably this portion is the equivalent of a traditional spire). It does not say so in the article, but presumably the building is meant to evoke the early Christians martyred in the Colosseum. No doubt the designers were quite pleased with their cleverness. And I suppose it is refreshing to see a church building that makes some allusion, however vague, to sacrifice. The problem is that the building is quite ugly. But of course this is to be expected from a building designed chiefly for functionality, as Fr. Hill himself says:

We needed a church that had a good gathering area that would double as an overflow area in certain circumstances. It has been very effective that way … We didn’t want it bigger; we wanted it more flexible so that it would look alright for Sunday Mass and weekday Masses, and then allow us to adjust to extra numbers.
The article contains nothing to suggest that a church ought to glorify God even when not in liturgical use, so we have another example of the pervasive post-Vatican II architectural utilitarianism. The church’s interior is no better either; it reminded me of the scene in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade where Indy and his dad are getting tickets for a blimp trip. Indeed, from the outside it is somewhat reminiscent of a Nazi German Zepellin terminal as well. As for the furnishings, it is a predictably minimalist affir, with the seating ‘in the round’, a semi-circle with the sanctuary (if one can call it that) jutting into it from the diameter, evoking that other great post-Conciliar theme of anthropocentrism. As you can imagine, the altar is really more of a table. What a sad state of affairs.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Andrew Avellino, 2008 A.D.

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