Rebuilding churches

Unfortunately, the devastatingly sad news of the fire at Notre Dame in Paris is an old story. The architecture is often daring, the maintenance expensive, and fighting fires, earthquakes and other natural challenges is heightened by the architectural extravagance. In 1950, a fire started in the roof of St. Alphonsus Church on the north side of Chicago while repairs were occurring. It was one of the largest fires Chicago. My future father-in-law, who was baptized and buried out of St. Al’s is quoted in historical record.

From the book  Lake View  by Matt Nickeson, 2014

From the book Lake View by Matt Nickeson, 2014

The church’s interior was rebuilt and has subsequently been restored. It looks better than when I married John’s daughter there!

St. Alphonsus Church, Chicago

St. Alphonsus Church, Chicago

In 2010, I visited Socorro, New Mexico, but when I went to the Old San Miguel Mission, it had been ordered closed the month before. The parish was founded in 1598, and the current building began in 1615. Over the centuries it was damaged and repaired numerous times. However, earlier in 2010, a neighboring pueblo church collapsed. Engineers determined that the efforts to preserve the pueblo churches by covering them in concrete stucco actually trapped moisture and was causing their decay. In this image, you can see where engineers removed stucco at the front of the church to examine the conditions.

San Miguel Church, Socorro, New Mexico

San Miguel Church, Socorro, New Mexico

San Miguel was immediately closed and tested to see if it could be saved. Pastor Andrew Pavlak, who is from Chicago, let me in the church to take some pictures. All artwork and relics and half the pews had been removed. An image I took that day was used on the cover of a regional telephone book (in case you remember those historical artifacts) and the proceeds were part of my donation to the church’s restoration.

San Miguel Interior

San Miguel Interior

The church was able to be restored and reopened in time to celebrate its 400th anniversary in 2014. My donation to Notre Dame will soon be made. I have no doubt that the Easter Mass of Resurrection will one day again be celebrated in that cathedral.

Old San Miguel Mission, Socorro

Old San Miguel Mission, Socorro