Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Roofers continue to install copper

One side of the first spire is nearly complete. There is a long way to go, but it helps us to imagine what the spires will look like when they are done.

Friday, April 25, 2008

New Pews from an Old Friend

Most of the posts in this blog deal with the day-to-day changes to Holy Family Cathedral in the course of its restoration. Today, we will take a short look at the life of the priest who built our Cathedral.

Father John G. Heiring grew up in Davenport, Iowa, was ordained a priest, and found himself serving the Catholics in Indian Territory. Bishop Theophile Meerschaert assigned him to Holy Family Church in 1907. Fr. Heiring replaced two Belgian-born brothers who had built the original Holy Family church and school in 1899.

Almost immediately, Fr. Heiring began making plans to expand the original church which seated several dozen parishioners - and no more. The church was a typical wood frame building with a rectangular floor plan. Fr. Heiring and his parishioners tore down the rear wall, the wall where the altar stood. He built transepts and an apse, making the church a cruciform, a church built in the shape of a cross. He ordered new pews and stained glass windows to fill the additional space.

According to Father James White in his book Tulsa Catholics, Bishop Meerschaert traveled from Oklahoma City for the dedication of the newly expanded church. The bishop arrived but the new pews had not. To make matters worse, the windows had arrived, but all of them had broken in transit. The bishop dedicated the pew-less and window-less church.

In 1912, Father Heiring began planning to build the current Holy Family church at 8th & Boulder. That story will be retold later.

Bishop Meerschaert was pleased with Father Heiring's visionary planning and determination. The bishop asked him to found a church west of the Arkansas River. St. Catherine Church and School thrive to this day, named after Fr. Heiring's mother's patron saint. The bishop asked Father Heiring to build a hospital. St. John's Hospital is named at Fr. Heiring's patron.

During all this work, anyone would need a vacation. Fr. Heiring became friends with some German immigrants who settled in southeastern Oklahoma in the small town of Plunketville. They built St. Henry Catholic Church and a tiny house within walking distance of the church. The house was named "Heiring's Retreat."

Today, nearly 100 years later, the population of Plunketville, Oklahoma has dropped significantly. The little church of St. Henry is closed. Most former parishioners attend Mass in nearby Mena, Arkansas; however, most of them share fond memories of many Masses said, many sacraments celebrated, and many prayers offered.

Yesterday, Monsignor Gregory Gier, Deacon Millard Kizzia, Deacon Tom Gorman, and Mike Malcom traveled to Plunketville. We met Fr. Chet Archer, one of the wonderful Glenmary priests who staff the most rural parishes in our diocese. We also met the principal caretaker of the property.

We loaded the pews into a moving van so that we could bring them to Holy Family in Tulsa. It will take some time to refinish them. They will find their way into the Chapel of Peace in the basement of the Cathedral where they will replace the current dreadful chairs. Although it is sad to visit a closed church, there is comfort in knowing that the pews from that church will be knelt upon thirteen times a week at all the daily Masses at the Cathedral.

Father Heiring's greatest accomplishment may have been his "tri-spired gem," the cathedral in downtown Tulsa. We cannot forget the impact he had in Plunketville and to those Catholics who he prayed with and ministered to - even when he was on vacation.

Update: Imbrication

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Removal of electric organ Speaker Cabinet

The speaker cabinet for the rarely used electric organ is gone. It had been described as somewhat unattractive, especially given its location.

Work continues in the southern aisle of the Cathedral's nave.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Inbrication: Let's try a different method

We are making a second effort to paint the detailed rectangular pattern on the walls.The first method of applying the imbrication did not yield crisp, straight lines. You will find the results of the new technique on the south aisle of the nave.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Details: Imbrication

Painters have begun applying the imbrication to the south transept wall. An imbrication is any overlapping pattern -in our case, it is a series of rectangles. The pattern is designed to give us a sense of scale.

Here is a rendering of the Cathedral with the imbrication completed. [Click on the image for a larger version.]

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

More Paint on the Vaults

The south aisle shines with bright white paint and gold ribs.

The central star receives some paint. The middle of the star was damaged during the installation of a previous sound system. The wood will be replaced and painted.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

April "Cathedral News" focuses on paint in the Cathedral

The April edition of the parish newsletter, The Cathedral News, explores the inspiration for the new colors in the Cathedral. It also gives us a sneak preview of the stencils which will be applied on the walls behind the high altar and the side altars.

This newsletter will be available online for the month of April 2008.

Here is a link to it.

Note: Cathy Nelson should have received credit for her excellent photographs of the Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph windows shown on page 3.