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Today I want to talk to you about the timeline for The Immaculata church project, the new design progress, and other questions submitted from supporters like you from around the world.
But first I wanted to thank you all for your continued interest, generosity and support of the project. We've been experiencing overwhelming positivity, progress and growing exposure. To date, we have viewers from over 50 countries from around the world and donations coming from over 17 even as far as Indonesia. As you may know we're only a few weeks away from the 50th Anniversary of the Society [of St. Pius X]. November 1st marks half a century of the fruits of tradition and in that time we've seen the society grow to almost 700 priests extending itself to all continents. Even here in St. Mary's we have over four thousand faithful; 900 students in our Academy. We're happy to say that this year we will be sending 11 seminarians to the seminary, eight young ladies to religious life, and a young man to the Brothers novitiate. The Immaculata itself is a beacon of hope and a very tangible proof of the fruits of tradition. All that being said, we have a lot of work ahead of us and a lot of questions to answer, so let's dive into some of the questions that you've submitted.
Question 1 [01:12]: Father, when can we expect the Church to be completed? Is the project currently on schedule?
So, the short answer to the question is we are on schedule and we will be done with the church in about two years’ time, so hopefully August or September of 2022 we will be completed. Between now and then we will see concrete and steel work beginning this month and going all through the winter; the masonry will begin in March and will be completed before next winter, so we will have the shell and the structure up by winter of 2021.
Question 2 [01:44]: What is the next major milestone and/or parish event?
So, as I said we will begin concrete and steel work this month and that will continue all during the winter. As far as updates for the parish, we hope to have the bell foundry come and make a presentation to us like we did last year before COVID made us have to reschedule. So I plan for that to be the next major event that we have for the Church project and hopefully depending on what travel bans are in place we can do that this winter sometime
Question 3 [02:19]: Will the baptism of the bells be part of the consecration of The Immaculata, or will it be its own ceremony?
We certainly won't be able to wait until the consecration ceremony to do the consecration of all the bells, the baptism of all the bells, because we hope to have if not all of them at least some of them installed for that ceremony. So it should be its own ceremony sometime between now and the consecration of the church.
Question 4 [02:44]: What design progress has been made over the last six to nine months? What is currently in progress?
So over the last six to nine months, we have been doing a lot of detail work on some of the interior. A lot of discussions about the chapels upstairs, the baptistry, details of where things will be placed, details of where the relics will go, and what the altars will be named, who they will be named after. It has been a lot of detail work that we have been discussing in regular meetings throughout the last year or so. We still have a lot more work to do on that, but even discussions about the basement, the classrooms, audio-visual needs, all these kinds of things are things that we've been discussing. As far as the interior design of the church, we have been making a lot of progress in that area as well. In the last few months we have hired a liturgical painter who has been giving us some very beautiful renderings of what the interior of the church could look like and that has been a starting point for us to make other decisions about types and colors of stone that we will use, what kinds of windows will go in the church and other questions like that.
Question 5 [03:58]: Can you please talk about the extra chapels?
So you can find some of the answers to these questions in our Floorplan series, especially we did one article specifically dedicated to the side chapels. But to answer your question here now: we will have five side chapels in The Immaculata. Of course the main altar is dedicated to Our Lady, to The Immaculata. Then on the Gospel side next to the sanctuary will be the sacred Heart chapel and the St. Pius X chapel will be on the Epistle side. Both of those will be large enough to accommodate about 50 people. Then back in the nave, on the on the Gospel side, we will have a side altar dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe and on the Epistle side an altar dedicated to St. Joseph. Then finally in the very back of the church across the church from the baptistry, we will have our relic chapel and in that same chapel we will place Our Lady of Sorrows, our current Our Lady of Sorrow statue; it will be the Regina Martyrum Chapel where She, the mother of Sorrows, the Queen of Martyrs, will reside with the relics of the martyrs.
Question 6 [05:01]: Is the church being designed with handicap accessible areas? If so, can you explain?
So we certainly took into consideration any handicapped parishioners or visitors when we made the designs for the church. There are certainly ramps that go up into the church; there is an elevator that will allow any handicapped faithful to access all floors. But even in the church itself we took the strategy of designing locations for handicapped people to be placed so that there are some spots where they can have a good view of the altar. If they don't want to be so far up front, we have spots for them farther back. And even in the very back of the church if they wish. But we have also designed it so that they can have a seat next to them for their spouse or caretaker to sit with them.
Question 7 [05:49]: Can you talk to the geographical changes that will occur to the current site once the project is complete?
Once the church is complete, there will be some site changes to what we are used to up by the cemetery in the church. That walking path that goes along Second Street will be paved. There will be pedestrian entrances into the church property from Second Street and anywhere where there is an entrance way. Also going into the cemetery there will be a roadway and a walkway; we will demark the cemetery from the church property by a fence and some other shrubs and things like that eventually, but we will also close off the road that goes from the cemetery on to Mount Calvary road. We of course will have the roadway in the very back of the church that will go all the way from Mount Calvary to Gideon's Way. Also with the retention pond that the city has planned for our property, the current church location and site plan won't affect that project at all. The two properties do not overlap.
Question 8 [06:58]: Is there a real pipe organ being installed immediately upon completing the project?
We have had a lot of questions about whether or not we have a pipe organ in the church. This kind of church definitely deserves a pipe organ. We have a certain number budgeted for an organ in the church, in fact we will have two organs in the church: we will have one for the choir loft for Sunday Masses and larger ceremonies where the church is full, but then for some of the smaller Sung Masses weekdays or some of the Divine Office where the faithful only fill that the transept up to the altar we will have an organ, a little harmonium more or less, up in the transept to accompany those smaller ceremonies. But for the organ that goes up in the choir loft, we are studying the question right now, whether the amount that we have budgeted for an organ would allow us to buy a real pipe organ and to investigate a little bit the cost of what it would take to maintain a pipe organ.
Question 9 [07:56]: What kind of support are you seeing for the project? What scope of interest has there been from outside of St. Mary's?
So, frankly, there has been an enormous amount of interest from outside of St. Mary's. It seems like every week I'm signing a thank you note to some benefactor who lives in another state or even in another country. I mean, seeing donations of $50,000 $25,000 - anything frankly from outside of St. Mary's, we are extremely grateful to you for your support. I think people realize that this project was very dear to the Archbishop's heart and they see its importance as an act of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Question 10 [08:33]: Is the Immaculata being built only for those in St. Mary's?
These are dark times that we are living, in no doubt. Like Our Lady of Fatima said, Communism would spread its errors. But she said in the end her Immaculate Heart will triumph. And so, I really want this church to feel to everybody, not just faithful in the United States, not just faithful here in St. Mary's, but people all around the world that this is their church, that's what Archbishop Lefebvre wanted it to be. He considered it like a basilica, a national basilica, dedicated to her Immaculate Heart. So I hope that souls all around will want to make a sort of a pilgrimage to St. Mary's to visit the Immaculata someday. There are certainly plenty of other things to see around we have a historic campus here in St. Mary's, we have Pilsen and Fr. [Emil] Kapaun and his well-known story, we have the Cathedral of the Plains out in Victoria, KS. So if you made a pilgrimage here, there will be plenty of other Catholic historical things to see.
Question 11 [09:33]: What will happen to the current Assumption Chapel?
Anybody who lives in St. Mary's knows the constant conflicts of space here on the campus between the Academy, the parish, and the College. Having the Immaculata built off-site with plenty of room, we will be able to do all parish events up there and it will have to be for us a new home; it will be a beautiful space for Masses and for all the other parish events that we do. That being said and while we understand that there might be some who are very attached to the Assumption Chapel, campus safety and security will be very important to us moving forward and so Assumption Chapel will be continued to be used but only by the Academy and the College.
Question 12 [10:18]: Does the $30M cover everything, including the interior finishes and “furniture” – such as the altar, organ, pews, audio, etc…?
We've been doing an enormous amount of work over about the last year trying to really identify what we call the Guaranteed Maximum Price of the project – the GMP. The contractors have been vetting a whole host of subcontractors to identify what we call the hard costs of the project, and then the owners group and the architects have been going through a lot of detailed discussions on the interior, for example, how much money do we want to put towards liturgical painting, do we want to put more eggs in that basket or eggs in the basket of stained glass windows. These are all kinds of discussions that we have been having and we hope to be able to come to a final number very soon.
Question 13 [11:10]: Are there any opportunities for individual gifts and sponsoring (such as relics, stained glass windows, etc.) outside of the normal Guilds?
We are not at a point in the process just yet where we have very specific items that people could sponsor, such as a statue or an image or things like that. We are open to that idea maybe at some point down the road; in the meantime though, we do have these different Guilds that you can belong to. Back in the day, it took all the different guilds to build a church to build these cathedrals of Christendom. And even today, for this church, it really does require all the people who belong to these guilds, all these guilds to build The Immaculata. To sponsor specific features of the church; you know, by belonging to the Carpenter's Guild you really are sponsoring the confessionals, or the Stonecutters Guild you really are sponsoring the stone that will go into the altar. So it is really important that people belong to the guilds that we have created, and we will have a place to recognize all of these guild members in our church once it is completed.
[Archbishop Lefebvre 12:21] Many people know St. Mary’s, this place in the center of America. It was a very good place to continue the church, Catholic church, to maintain the true doctrine and the true Faith and the true Sacrifice of the Mass. You are under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, our beloved Mother.