Thursday, January 22, 2015

St. Luke Catholic Church, Ogallala, NE

In the midst of the rolling western Nebraska Sandhills stands an expressive, angular Mid-Century Modern church designed by one of Nebraska's most prolific church architects.  Today, St. Luke Catholic Church in Ogallala stands as one of the largest and boldest Mid-Century churches in rural Nebraska.


(Photo source)
Early records indicate that in 1859, Jesuit Father Pierre-Jean DeSmet instructed and baptized 263 members of the Oglala Tribe near the Platte River, south of present-day city of Ogallala.  It's likely that Father DeSmet also offered the first Masses in the area.  Priests from Sidney and North Platte would later make sporadic visits to the area to administer the sacraments.  By 1887, area Catholics constructed a permanent church (pictured above).  Priests from St. Patrick Parish in Sidney (72 miles away!) served the Ogallala community from 1887 until 1913, when St. Luke received its first resident pastor.


(Photo source)
By 1922, the growing parish saw the need to expand its original church building.  This was accomplished by the addition of transcepts and a new sanctuary.  The exterior of the building was also coated in grey stucco.  The church's capacity was expanded yet again in 1949 with the extension of the choir loft and an addition to the front of the building.  St. Luke Parish continued to grow, along with the general population of the city and by 1953, a convent and elementary school were constructed. 


St. Luke reached a new milestone with the dedication of its new $250,000 church on November 29, 1960.  The work of prominent Nebraska church architect James E. Loftus, this structure represents his first known attempt at designing a truly modern church building.  And what an eye-catching success it is!  Unfortunately, the sleek exterior lines of the building have been compromised by the addition of a sloped steel roof and air-handling equipment.  Otherwise, both the exterior and interior of the church retain a high degree of architectural integrity. 


The spacious, unencumbered volume of the interior evokes a sense of lightness, while the almost Art Deco-like marble reredos naturally focuses one's attention towards the crucifix and altar area.


Large clearstory windows create a bright environment, while the much lower ambulatory humanizes the scale of the space.  The cream colored brick of the clearstory walls and the wood paneled sanctuary find complementary contrast with the white plaster ceiling and ambulatory walls.

The sanctuary features some wonderful Mid-Century detailing, including the light fixtures and woodwork.  The furnishings are simple, but substantial, and of noble materials.  The hidden lancet windows illuminate the reredos and crucifix in a wonderfully mysterious fashion.  


By the 1950s, the ideas of the Liturgical Movement had come to greatly influence church design.  One of these primary ideas was that only one altar should be visible from the main body of the church, since the altar is the primary symbol of Christ.  This principal is clearly illustrated at St. Luke, where, neatly tucked away beneath two low-ceiling transcepts, are the traditional side altars dedicated to Mary and Joseph.


Some may find it initially jarring to come across such a thoroughly modern church in a small western Nebraska community.  However, I think it's fair to say that the Lincoln Highway had a huge influence on the architecture of the communities it passed through.  As the modern concept of long-range vehicular transportation became the norm, modern structures flourished along the Lincoln Highway to reflect this new era of American life.


Today, St. Luke Church should be appreciated as an innovative and exciting structure that reflects the enthusiasm of the 1950s and 60s, while still hearkening to solid liturgical principals that hold true even today.


Bibliography

History of Saint Luke’s Catholic Church of Ogallala, Nebraska

Parlin, Mary, and Colleen Gallion, comps. 100 Years of Faith: The History of the Diocese of Grand Island. Grand Island, NE: West Nebraska Register, 2012.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Reflection for the Solemnity of the Passing of Our Holy Father Benedict, Abbot (March 21) - Prayer at Midday



Sirach 51:13-18  
In my youth, before I set out on my travels, I openly sought wisdom in prayer; before the Temple I asked for her and I will pursue her to the end of my days.  While she blossomed like a ripening cluster, my heart was delighted in her; my feet followed the right path, because from my youth I searched for her.  As soon as I began listening to her she was given to me, and with her, much instruction.  With her help I made progress and I will glorify him who gives me wisdom, for I decided to put it into practice and ardently seek what is good. I shall not regret it.  (Christian Community Bible)


Reflection
We like to think of Lent as being a time of somber reflection and prayer.  But in reality, I think that many of us find ourselves in a time of panic.  Our liturgists and musicians are starting to panic as they strive to put the final touches on the services of Holy Week.  As students and teachers, we find ourselves beginning to panic with the realization that we only have seven weeks left in the semester – And that brings a whole new level of panic – Will I be ready for comps?  What should I do for the summer?  What am I supposed to do with my life anyways?

Both Ben Sira and St. Benedict were great teachers who were highly sought after because of their wisdom.  But they didn’t get there overnight.  They both gradually came to understand that gaining real wisdom involves a combination of incessant prayer, the hard work of study, and listening.

While all three of these steps are important, it’s the step of listening that’s most easily dismissed.  It’s obvious that we have to pray and study if we want to acquire the kind of wisdom that scripture talks about – but listening?  I don’t have time for that!  I’m too busy praying and studying! 

The reason that we’re so eager to dismiss the act of listening in our pursuit of wisdom is because what we hear when we listen is completely out of our control.  And that’s a scary thing!  So we consciously (or unconsciously) fill our lives with so many things that we simply don’t have the time to listen.

When we live deadline to deadline with our assignments… do we really listen to what the material is saying to us?  When we get so wrapped up in our own interests that we completely ignore the community around us… do we really listen to the person of Christ in others?

What do we hear from Ben Sira?  “As soon as I began listening to her, wisdom was given to me…”  What do we hear from St. Benedict as the first word of his rule?  “Listen.”  We might get close to finding wisdom by frantically searching high and low, but it’s in listening that wisdom is given to us.

When we truly begin to listen, we can hear what is being said – of course.  But we can also pick up on the more subtle things – what is being left unsaid or only vaguely hinted at.  And that holds true whether we’re listening to others, to ourselves or to God.  And it’s these subtle things that are the difference between knowing facts in gaining wisdom. 

If we want to be wise, we have to be attentive to the ear of our hearts.  What we hear may challenge us or make us uneasy, but if we’re truly listening to what God is saying to us, we shall not regret it. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Year of Faith Pilgrimage Sites in South Dakota



In October of 2012, Pope Benedict XVI inaugurated a "Year of Faith" as an opportunity for Catholics and indeed all Christians to dedicate themselves to deepening their understanding of the gift of faith.

The Year of Faith is an opportunity to experience a conversion – to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him.  The pope has described this conversion as opening the “door of faith.”  The “door of faith” is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year we are called to open it again, walk through it, and rediscover and renew our relationship with Christ.

As a part of this Year of Faith, dioceses throughout the world have designated places of pilgrimage and prayer to aide in this process of rediscovery.  In addition to the spiritual benefits of visiting these sites, a pilgrimage is also an excellent opportunity to discover the rich artistic and cultural heritage of a given area.  The Year of Faith comes to a close on 24 November 2013.

Below are a list and map of designated pilgrimage sites within the state of South Dakota: 


Diocese of Rapid City
Note: In addition to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the Diocese of Rapid City has designated particular pilgrimage churches for each month of the Year of Faith:

Timber Lake,
Holy Cross Church (November 2012)
Wall, St. Patrick Church (November 2012)

Buffalo,
St. Anthony Church (December 2012)
Winner, Immaculate Conception Church (December 2012)

Philip,
Sacred Heart Church (January 2013)
Spearfish, St. Joseph Church (January 2013)

Eagle Butte,
All Saints Church (February 2013)
Pine Ridge, Sacred Heart Church (February 2013)

Lower Brule,
St. Mary Church (March 2013)
Lead, St. Patrick Church (March 2013)

Ft. Pierre,
St. John the Evangelist Church (April 2013)
Sturgis, St. Francis of Assisi Church (April 2013)

Gregory,
St. Joseph Church (May 2013)
McLaughlin, St. Bernard Church (May 2013)

Ft. Pierre,
St. John the Evangelist Church (June 2013)
Martin, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church (June 2013)

Mission,
St. Thomas the Apostle Church (July 2013)
Lemmon, St. Mary Church (July 2013)

St. Francis,
St. Charles Borromeo Church (August 2013)
Faith, St. Joseph Church (August 2013)

Hot Springs,
St. Anthony of Padua Church (September 2013)
Bison, Blessed Sacrament Church (September 2013)

Kadoka,
Our Lady of Victory Church (October 2013)
Belle Fourche, St. Paul Church (October 2013)

Diocese of Sioux Falls
Aberdeen, St. Mary Church
Alexandria, St. Mary of Mercy Church 
Bryant, St. Mary Church  
Dante, Assumption Church 
Dell Rapids, St. Mary Church
Clear Lake, St. Mary Church 
Elkton, Our Lady of Good Counsel Church
Highmore, St. Mary Church
Lake Andes, St. Mary Church
Marion, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church
Leola, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church
Revillo, Annunciation Church
Salem, St. Mary Church
Sioux Falls, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church
Sioux Falls, St. Mary Church
Stickney, St. Mary Church
Stephan, Immaculate Conception Church
Watertown, Immaculate Conception Church
Waubay, Immaculate Conception Church
Wilmont, St. Mary Church


View Year of Faith Pilgrimage Sites in South Dakota in a larger map
 

If one wishes to obtain a plenary indulgence at a pilgrimage site, the pilgrim must be in the state of grace and have the intention of gaining the indulgence either for oneself or for a soul in Purgatory.  The pilgrim then must take part in some sacred function at the place or else pause for a few moments of prayer, concluding with the recitation of the Our Father and a Profession of Faith (Apostles’ Creed) and a request for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin or the patron saint of the location.  One also must say a prayer for the intentions of the Pope and receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist within eight days before, during, or after the pilgrimage.

In addition to the above mentioned pilgrimage sites, a pilgrim may visit the baptistery or other place where one was baptized and, while there, renew one's baptismal promises.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Year of Faith Pilgrimage Sites in Iowa

 

In October of 2012, Pope Benedict XVI inaugurated a "Year of Faith" as an opportunity for Catholics and indeed all Christians to dedicate themselves to deepening their understanding of the gift of faith.

The Year of Faith is an opportunity to experience a conversion – to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him.  The pope has described this conversion as opening the “door of faith.”  The “door of faith” is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year we are called to open it again, walk through it, and rediscover and renew our relationship with Christ.

As a part of this Year of Faith, dioceses throughout the world have designated places of pilgrimage and prayer to aide in this process of rediscovery.  In addition to the spiritual benefits of visiting these sites, a pilgrimage is also an excellent opportunity to discover the rich artistic and cultural heritage of a given area.  The Year of Faith comes to a close on 24 November 2013.

Below are a list and map of designated pilgrimage sites within the state of Iowa:  


Diocese of Davenport
Unknown.  If readers have information on pilgrimage sites for this diocese, please contact me.

Diocese of Des Moines

Ankeny, St. Luke the Evangelist Parish
Atlantic, Ss. Peter & Paul Church
Council Bluffs, Queen of Apostles Church
Creston, Holy Spirit Church
Imogene, St. Patrick Church
Indianola, St. Thomas Aquinas Church
Irish Settlement, St. Patrick Church
Des Moines, Basilica of St. John
Des Moines, Cathedral of St. Ambrose
Des Moines, Grotto of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel & Divine Mercy
Des Moines, Our Lady of the Americas Church
Portsmouth, St. Mary Church
Stuart, All Saints Church

Archdiocese of Dubuque

Cedar Rapids, Immaculate Conception Church
Charles City, Immaculate Conception Church
Dubuque, Cathedral of St. Raphael
Dyersville, Basilica of St. Francis Xavier
Gilbertville, Immaculate Conception Church
Marshalltown, St. Mary Church

Diocese of Sioux City

Boone, Sacred Heart Church
Ida Grove, Sacred Heart Church
Le Mars, St. Joseph Church
Maryhill, Rosary Shrine
Rock Valley, St. Mary Church
Sioux City, Cathedral of the Epiphany
Sioux City, Trinity Heights 
West Bend, Grotto of the Redemption
West Bend, Ss. Peter & Paul Church
Willey, St. Mary Church


View Iowa Year of Faith Pilgrimage Churches in a larger map 

If one wishes to obtain a plenary indulgence at a pilgrimage site, the pilgrim must be in the state of grace and have the intention of gaining the indulgence either for oneself or for a soul in Purgatory.  The pilgrim then must take part in some sacred function at the place or else pause for a few moments of prayer, concluding with the recitation of the Our Father and a Profession of Faith (Apostles’ Creed) and a request for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin or the patron saint of the location.  One also must say a prayer for the intentions of the Pope and receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist within eight days before, during, or after the pilgrimage.

In addition to the above mentioned pilgrimage sites, a pilgrim may visit the baptistery or other place where one was baptized and, while there, renew one's baptismal promises.