“God forgive me, but I hope the ones responsible for that altar are still in purgatory”

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s post on beauty in churches, here’s a living example of a renovation gone wrong—and an effort to make it right.

Last year, I posted on the remarkable renovation being undertaken at one Brooklyn parish, whose sanctuary looked like this:

Now that’s changing.

Here’s an update from the New York Daily News: 

We’ve all heard about the soaring cost of the St. Patrick’s Cathedral renovation.

But over in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, the Holy Name of Jesus Church is going through a far more modest but no less significant $2.4 million renovation and receiving a replacement altar designed by James Renwick Jr. — the same celebrated architect who designed St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Smithsonian and the National Mall. And who happens to be buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, a bagpipes’ wail from the steps of Holy Name.

Renwick’s elaborate, 30-ton marble altar arrives at Holy Name like an answered prayer.

Parishioners had hoped for a change since 1981, when their old altar was replaced with a then-modern design that locals said resembled a collection of “hockey sticks.”

The altar was so offensive that some parishioners strayed to nearby St. Saviour’s. Three decades after the hockey sticks were installed, a little, old Irish woman, a daily communicant, confessed to a priest, “God forgive me, but I hope the ones responsible for that altar are still in purgatory.”

Half my family was baptized in Holy Name. My mother and father had their requiem Masses there. Countless friends were married and buried out of Holy Name. Thousands jammed the church for the funeral of FDNY Capt. Vinny Brunton, who perished on 9/11.

 With all that tradition, people wanted to reinstall an “old-fashioned” altar in Holy Name. “Then three years ago, Msgr. John Bracken, who was the interim pastor of Holy Name, knew that St. Vincent de Paul Church in Williamsburg was closing,” says Mike Coyne of the Holy Name finance and fund-raising committees. “He knew about this beautiful altar that would go into storage until some other church somewhere across the country went shopping for an altar.”

 Read more.   And check out the video below, which explains the renovation, and what the completed result will achieve: YouTube Preview Image