22/8/10 – The General Plan of the Church

At present, we are exploring the liturgical principles which underpin our work in the Church Renewal Process.  Having considered active participation, we now consider the sixth principle, namely:

The general plan of the church

Over the centuries, many Catholic churches have been built.  Very rarely is one church building identical to another, and the layout, design and style of the buildings has changed immensely over the period of almost two thousand years.  So what, then, are the basic requirements for the general plan of a church?

Firstly, the liturgical documents since Vatican II focus on the church being arranged so that “it in some way conveys the image of the gathered assembly” (Rite of Dedication of a Church and Altar, Ch 2, No 3; General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 294) It is a reminder to us once again that it is the whole Church, each of us gathered together that becomes one body in Christ and celebrates the liturgy.  There needs to be, therefore, spaces for each of the various ministries to be carried out.  Once again, the arrangement of the church should encourage full, conscious and active participation of everyone in the liturgy.

Considering the matter of participation further, the most recent General Instruction of the Roman Missal encourages the provision of seating for the assembly, as well as ensuring good lines of sight to focal points such as the ambo, altar and presidential chair.  It encourages us to provide adequate sound amplification, and space to allow us to move as necessary during the Mass – both to sit, stand and kneel as required, but also to move in procession to communion (GIRM, 311).

Also, while the church is a liturgical space, we are also challenged to think about how our place of worship also provides the usual comforts that people come to expect when they gather in public buildings.  This could include facilities such as toilets and parking, but also extend to other areas such as suitable climate control (GIRM, 293).

Finally, our Guiding Concepts Committee met last weekend to draw together the material and feedback gained from parishioners during our meeting with Fr Stephen Hackett MSC in June.  A draft of the guiding concepts has been prepared and is being reviewed by the committee before it is presented to all parishioners in due course.

20/6/10 – Report on Guiding Concepts Meeting

Church Renovation ProcessLast weekend, our parish held a second meeting with liturgical advisor Fr Stephen Hackett MSC to continue the work of our Church Renewal Process.  A good number of people were in attendance, and we thank those who came along and took part.

The purpose of this meeting was to begin the development of some guiding concepts for the project.  These concepts would form the parish’s own contribution to a design brief.  A design team will take our guiding concepts, as well as the existing plans of the building, relevant church documents, and diocesan and government policies.  Their task will be to develop a plan for our church building which not only meets the various requirements for church buildings, but also reflects our unique nature, beliefs and values as the parish of Wentworthville.

With this in mind, people began to identify areas of need within not only our church building, but within our broader parish community.  Those present were then invited to work in groups (based on their particular topics of interest) to consider these needs in greater detail.  Groups then reported back to all present on the fruit of their deliberations.

The topics discussed covered a range of needs within our community, including Liturgical Ministry, the Disabled and the Elderly, Building and Facilities, Community, Inclusion, Mission, Spirituality, the Liturgical Environment, Finance, Children’s Liturgy of the Word and Devotional Prayer Spaces in the Church.

Over the next few months, a committee formed of members from the Liturgy Committee, Parish Pastoral Council and participants at previous renewal process meetings will take the large amount of data collected and formulate these into the guiding concepts.  Once a draft has been produced, it will be presented to the Liturgy Committee, Pastoral Council and all parishioners for feedback and comment prior to completion.

Thank you again to everyone who supported the meeting and shared their ideas and hopes for our community into the future.