The School of Architecture and Planning at Catholic University in
Washington is having a symposium from April 30th  through May 1st. The
theme for the symposium is  Extending and Transforming the
Tradition of Catholic Architecture.

There are many individual artists and architects involved with the
planning and designing of new Catholic Churches in the United States and
this upcoming symposium offers an opportunity to experience the trends
that are evolving within the professional architectural community and
the Catholic artisan communities that will effect the designs of future
Catholic Churches.
While the School of Architecture and Planning at Catholic University
does not exclusively design for future Catholic places of liturgical
worship, the attention it is focusing on the topic is long overdue. For
over forty years since the end of the Second Vatican Council, most of
the Catholic Churches in the United States were a hybrid design that
included space for the Sacred Liturgy and a place for other pastoral
activities. For the most part, they did not reflect the large temples of
worship America experienced in the 19th and 20th centuries of building
churches exclusively designed for the Catholic Sacred liturgy.
However, in recent years the trend is moving once again towards the use
of Catholic Churches exclusively for the celebrations of the Sacred
Liturgies. What this means is that there is a Catholic renewal of art
and architecture that is sweeping the parish communities in the United
States when they plan and implement the designs for a new parish church.
Once again, the uniquely Catholic requirements for effective
celebrations of the Holy Mass are the most important requirements of the
new church design, coupled with the use of modern materials and
ecologically sensitive configurations intended to enhance the church
worshiping space as one devoted to the praise of God…exclusively.
In some cases, the merger and closure of parish communities in the
United States has allowed the development of a mega cottage industry
that reuses and recycles  items from closed parishes such as stained
glass and marble altars. In an attempt to incorporate materials of the
highest artistic quality from the 19th and 20th centuries, the new
Catholic Churches built in the United States pay homage to the spiritual
and temporal sensitivities of their spiritual forefathers. Also with
the building of new churches there is an opportunity for new artists and
artisans to have an opportunity to provide new visions of Catholic
saints and liturgical accessories that are befitting a place in a sacred
and transcendent Catholic worshiping community.
While the symposium is hosted by the School of Architecture and
Planning, the keynote speaker for the event is His Eminence Justin
Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia. Cardinal Rigali in his own
Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been a strong supporter of the
restoration of traditional Catholic Church designs for his parishes.
During his tenure, His Eminence has even restored the traditional Altar
of the Blessed Sacrament to the main body of the Cathedral Basilica of
Saints Peter and Paul, an example followed to all of the parishes in his
Keenly aware of the need for a renewal of the sense of the sacred in our
Catholic spirituality, Cardinal Rigali has made the pursuit of
spiritual renewal as a pastoral priority for Philadelphia and also for
the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. Cardinal Rigali is a member of
the National Shrine’s Board of Directors and Artistic Advisory Board.
With the backing of such a prominent American Cardinal, the great
renewal of Catholic architectural traditions, extending into the 21st
century, the symposium has the potential to provide resounding influence
on Catholicism in the United States for years to come.

Hugh J.McNichol is a Catholic author and journalist writing
on Catholic topics and issues. He attended Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in
Philadelphia, where he studied both philosophy and theology. He writes
frequently at
. Hugh writes about his Irish Catholic upbringing and educational experiences
. He has contributed works to Catholic
News Agency, Catholic Online, The Irish Catholic, Dublin, the British
Broadcasting Company, London and the Philadelphia Bulletin, Catholic Exchange,, Blogger News Network & The Catholic Business
Journal, &
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welcome at

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