Sunday, October 9, 2011

Change & Transition

I must apologize for the severe lack of posts as of late. My life has undergone quite the transition in the past few months!

I've always wondered if I could potentially direct my interests in ecclesiastical architecture, art, and history toward a more professional route. In early June, I began to investigate what educational qualifications it might take to become a liturgical design consultant. I never expected much to come of this research. I was mainly interested in seeing what was involved, if I ever wanted to make such a jump. I was happy
with my work at KTIC and I loved the community of West Point. God had other plans.

After exchanges with several professionals within the liturgical consulting field, it became apparent that I would need an advanced degree in liturgy and/or design. One of the liturgy schools recommended to me was St. John's School of Theology in Collegeville, Minnesota. Oddly enough, I've had a relationship with Collegeville for about the past ten years. My first experience with the campus was in high school as a member of the National Catholic Youth Choir, and I returned every year thereafter to celebrate the feast of St. Benedict with the monastic community. I later became an Oblate candidate of the monastery in 2006.

I would be making my annual retreat at Collegeville in July and I figured that I might as well look at the liturgy program while I was there. Long story short, things fell into place in a way that I never could have imagined. It became apparent that I was meant to study liturgy at St. John's right now! I made the decision to enroll in the program and was accepted about a month before classes were to start!

It was stressful to work through the process of leaving behind dear friends, a job, a community, and a home in less than a month's time. I got through it all somehow, though it wasn't easy to say goodbye to the people and organizations that had so warmly welcomed me as a newcomer four years earlier. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the West Point, Nebraska community, and especially the
West Point Community Theatre for welcoming me with such open arms. West Point has fostered a spirit and enthusiasm within me that has allowed me to arrive at where I am now. God willing, I will return there!

I arrived at St. John's on August 30th and classes began September 6th. I'm happy to be here. It's been an adjustment, to be sure. It has taken me a while to get back into the routine of "school," but I'm getting there. The classes are fascinating and it's truly a privilege to worship daily with the monastic community in
Marcel Breuer's iconic Abbey Church. I still can't believe how fortunate I am to be studying liturgy here at St. John's, especially at this point in the church's history.

I was also fortunate to secure a graduate assistantship with the
Seeing the Word project. Basically, we are working to develop curriculum around the now-complete Saint John's Bible. Primarily, we are focusing on the practice of Visio Divina and how the art of the Saint John's Bible can serve as an aid to prayer and an illumination of the Sacred Scriptures. I'm also in the very early stages of exploring how the notion of Vision Divina can be applied within the context of the historic preservation of religious buildings. Obviously, this assistantship is an excellent fit for me!

So, what's the future of this blog? I intend to keep posting about various churches, hopefully with more frequency than I have in the past. Since I'm living in Minnesota for the time being, I will probably begin posting more on the architecture of this area. However, I have a large photo archive of Nebraska churches that I still want to write about. I anticipate future posts to be an even balance between Nebraska and Minnesota locales. Also look for occasional posts dealing with my current studies, research, and some personal reflections.

If you have any suggestions or comments, you're always welcome to contact me by clicking the "Correspondence" box on the left side of the blog. I greatly appreciate your readership and interest. I hope you'll join me as I begin down this new path. Peace!

1 comment:

jonathanpaulmayer said...

I appreciate your study of liturgy and architecture; it has become an interest of mine, as well. I see you've had way more first-hand experience with churches, as you travel more, document better, and have a deeper knowledge of American church architecture of the past century than I.

Please do take seriously those considerations of liturgical design consultation. If you have the gifts and the interest, know that God doesn't give any gift in vain. Education is important to a degree, but if you establish yourself to be an expert in the field, education becomes irrelevant.

I am attempting to transition from illustrator to liturgical artist, myself, so I know where you're coming from. God bless your efforts!