Turning a church into a home: making God's house their house

From deep in the heart of Texas, a mission church becomes a family’s home…


Arlene and Bob Kampmann have discussed downsizing. Those 4,000 square feet are a lot for two people.

But then they wonder, who would honor the history of their house the way they have?

The Kampmanns, members of St. Philip Parish here, reside in the century-old former St. Philip mission church. The building went out of use in 1987 when the current church went up.

“Someone might turn it into offices,” Arlene says, her small laugh indicating what a thoughtless plan that would be.

Better it remain the home of a Catholic family, she concludes.

The sanctuary is now the kitchen, but it is the scene of some domestic holiness, as Arlene cooks lovingly for grandchildren and other family.

The massive living room, which the Kampmanns call the great hall, once was the nave. There, worshipers sat and listened to the scriptures, took in fervent homilies and participated in the liturgy of the Eucharist. Nowdays, Bob often holds Knights of Columbus meetings in the room, or the couple host faith sharing groups. The arched windows are still in place.

A massive oak table in the great hall was made from the church’s oak pews. The flooring is all original hardwood, where the feet of hundreds of worshipers shuffled on their way up to Communion. Crosses, candles and statues of angels occupy significant portions of the space.

Of course, the Kampmanns also play cards and watch television and tell jokes in the 80-foot-long chamber. Youngsters who visit can’t help but run around a bit. It’s a family house, after all.

Read more, including details about the house’s history, here.

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2 responses to “Turning a church into a home: making God's house their house”

  1. As parishes are consolidated due to dwindling mass attendance and the financial woes brought by the billions of dollars owed by abuse lawsuits, use of former church buildings for other purposes will become more an more common.

    At least they did not turned it into a bar, restaurant, disco club or other uses such as in Europe, where even thousand year old church buildings are bing sold and recycled for profane usage.

    I can’t but think of the state of the pagan temples at the end of the pagan era around the 4th when they became empty and eventually fell to ruin, except in cases like the Pantheon in Rome that became a Church or the Parthenon in Athens also converted into a Church (it was demolished by Venetians bombarding the city in the 15th century).

  2. I think it be great to be able to turn an unused church into a home and live in it. WOW! The beauty of the windows, the woodwork etc. would be a never ending. Lucky folks indeed to have that opportunity.

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