The joy and blessings found in Word and Eucharist are the foundation for calling us together in the sacred space of the church. Since the church’s first dedication in 1974, Sts. Simon & Jude Catholic Church has been a place to worship and grow in faith for those entering the sacred space. The church design plans were simple, yet elegant, laying the foundation for comfort, peace and community. Through the generosity and support of the parish community, the commission given by God to St. Francis to rebuild the church has been demonstrated once again. Scroll below to view the different areas our our church:
Blessed Sacrament Chapel
The Blessed Sacrament is located to the right of those who enter through the main doors. The challenge was to design a new chapel to house the Blessed Sacrament and to provide an intimate space for devotional prayer. Special features of the Eucharistic chapel include the upward floating ceiling, the tinted windows and the “wave” glass doors. These elements add grace and beauty to the prayerful atmosphere of the chapel, providing a peaceful space for private prayer. The tabernacle reserves the Blessed Sacrament so that ministers may bring Communion to those who are unable to be with the worshipping community. The chapel is easily accessible to those using a wheelchair or walker.
The meditation garden is situated next to the new Eucharistic chapel on Magnolia Street. The garden can be accessed from inside the church or by entering from a gate on the Magnolia side. The area offers a tranquil place amidst a garden with the gentle flow of water in the tiled fountain. The Stations of the Cross are placed around the garden.
The gathering space, or narthex, is a place of welcome – a threshold area between the space occupied by the assembly and the outside environment. The gathering space assists us in our transition from everyday life to the celebration of liturgy. A large rosette pattern appearing on the floor of the gathering space replicates the rosette found in the Papal Basilica of St. Francis, Assisi, Italy. The gathering space may be used for overflow crowds during Christmas and Easter.
Bell Towers are a rich part of Catholic tradition. An ancient practice exists to summon the Christian people to the liturgical assembly or to alert them to important happenings in the local community. The peal of bells is an expression of the sentiments of the People of God as they rejoice, grieve, offer thanks and petition. The new bell tower, detached from the existing church, draws the eye upward where four bells will hang in rhythmic tones. The bells will be rung during the 2009 Christmas season. They will call parishioners to Sunday and weekday Masses.
The font is an octagonal shape with an upper and a lower basin. The upper basin, especially designed for the baptism of infants, flows into the lower basin. The lower basin is large enough to accommodate the baptism of adults and children. The polished limestone slabs were selected and crafted to display and honor the primacy of baptism in the life of every Catholic Christian.
The altar, the table of the Lord, reflects the nobility, beauty, strength and simplicity of the One represented. The altar, the sign of Christ in the Assembly, is designed as a five foot square table made of richly fabricated solid cherry wood. The dark curve along the base of the altar top is visible on all four sides. The altar is secured in place by four 18-inch polished limestone slabs along the floor of the base. The polished limestone around the base of the altar matches the stone of the baptismal font, the stone upon which the tabernacle rests and the stone border of the Eucharistic chapel. The use of the polished stone signifies the intrinsic relationship between these liturgical appointments.
The ambo is the table of the Word. The design of the ambo follows the same lines of the altar fabricated in solid cherry wood. The location of the ambo reflects the dignity and nobility of the saving Word, and draws the attention of those present to the proclamation of the Word during the celebration of Mass.
The reserved Blessed Sacrament is kept in the tabernacle which is made of the same cherry wood as the altar and ambo. The presence of the Blessed Sacrament is indicated by the sanctuary lamp that is burning day and night. Indirect lighting enhances the tabernacle which is mounted on a cherry wood panel.
The presider’s chair stands as a symbol of the office of the priest, deacon or lay presider designated as the leader of the assembly. The presider’s chair is distinguished from the seating of other ministers by its design and placement. The chair was designed to take into consideration the lines and features of the altar, ambo and tabernacle, and is fabricated of solid cherry wood.
Crucifix and Corpus
The crucifix is a reproduction of the painted cross of the main altar in the Gothic Basilica San Domenico in Arezzo, Italy. This is one of the most antique and celebrated paintings by Cimabue (circa 1265). The cross is 10 feet in height with a width span of seven feet, eight inches. The corpus is six feet, four inches in height. This reproduction is hand-carved in lindenwood with a gold leaf finish by Conrad Maroder in Italy. The two icons on the cross arm panels are a unique feature of the cross. The icons are of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and St. John as portrayed in the Gospel of John. The inscription at the top of the cross is "IHS NAZARENUS REZ JUDEORUM," translation is "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. As He was crucified for the same reason."
Bronze Door Plaques
The main doors of the church are nine feet in height and finished in Penny Vein Bronze. Mounted to the main doors are bronze reliefs reproduced from the world famous Portals of San Zeno Maggiore of Verona, Italy. They are known as the Poor Man’s Bible. On the outside are six scenes from the Old Testament. They are: The Creation of Eve, Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden, Noah’s Ark, Abraham’s Hospitality, Sacrifice of Isaac and the Tables of the Law. On the inside are six scenes from the Gospels. They are: The Annunciation, Nativity, the Flight Into Egypt, the Calling of the Apostles (including the baptism of Jesus), the Last Supper and the Crucifixion. This simple, primitive art style from the second quarter of the twelfth century remains compelling and personal. The reproductions are finished in an antique patina.
Stations of the Cross
The Stations of the Cross, cast in bronze, are placed strategically on the block walls within the meditation garden. The stations were inspired by the Romanesque images from the Portals of San Zeno Maggiore in Verona Italy. The meditation garden offers lovely setting for praying the Stations of the Cross.
The renovated Reconciliation Rooms within the church provide a place for the Sacrament of Penance. The rooms have glass doors that provide for privacy as well as limited visibility. Penitents may approach the sacrament behind a fixed grill or face-to face with the priest. The atmosphere has been appropriately enhanced through lighting and the exterior glass.
Landscape and Hardscape
The landscape and hardscape around the church has been designed to enhance the outside environment and to provide ease of movement for all individuals in the community. Before the members of the worshipping community enter through the doors of the building, the external environment will contribute to a gracious approach to the place of worship. The external landscape takes into consideration the environment relative to a thriving beach community through the use of plants, shrubs, ground covering and trees indigenous to the area. The plant life selected requires low maintenance and watering. The hardscape (concrete) pathways and steps are designed for easy access. Special consideration is given to those with disabilities or physical hardships, as all entrances are ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant.
The restrooms, located off the gathering space, are large and spacious with new fixtures and accessories. Special accommodation is given to those with disabilities or physical hardship, as access is ADA compliant. The restrooms feature beautiful floor to ceiling tile.
Addressing the safety issues in and around the sanctuary was a major concern in the planning of the church renovation. Handrails have been added on both sides of the sanctuary for those requiring assistance in managing the steps. The steps now have a distinguishing strip of tile for ease of visibility of the step to the flat surface of the steps.
The steps at the main entrance of the church are wider for a gradual assent into the gathering space. Handrails have been placed at several locations for those requiring assistance in managing the steps. Lights have been installed on the steps for visibility during the evening hours. All entrances to the church have ADA ramps for ease of access when entering or leaving the church.
Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
The heating, ventilating and air conditioning system has been added to all areas within the church. The system is controlled not only by temperature inside the space, but also by outdoor temperature and relative humidity, and indoor air pressure and levels of carbon dioxide. When the outside temperature is cool enough, it can introduce outside air to the system to provide “free cooling” to maintain space temperature.
Light is a powerful symbol for the followers of Christ who is the Light shining in the darkness. In addition to the theological symbolism, light takes on a positive aesthetic and practical importance in the renovation of the church. Careful planning has enabled the use of options that make maximum use of natural light. The new lighting fixtures provide maximum light while drawing one’s eyes to the enormous span of the ceiling architecture.
Photography by Cathy LaFever and various Sts. Simon & Jude parishioners.