Friday, December 4, 2015

A "New" Church in the City

"Old" Church
With a growing congregation and an eye towards the future, Fr. Bob Marva contacted Henninger's to assist him in his ambitious idea replace his current Church at St. Agnes-Our Lady of Fatima on Cleveland's East Side with a brand-new structure.  Fr. Marva wanted to create a larger, more open space for the community and create a worship space that incorporated not only components of the "old" Church, but also utilize items from other closed parishes from the Diocese of Cleveland.

Tabernacle in wall
In visiting the Church, the first step was determining what to use and what to design as new pieces for the planned worship space.  Fr. Marva asked about his tabernacle, which was the original tabernacle from St. Agnes Church in Cleveland, which was torn down in 1975.  When the tabernacle was salvaged from St. Agnes however, it was recessed into the wall, meaning that Fr. Marva was unsure what the majority of the tabernacle looked like and whether it would be usable in the still-to-be-built Church.

Henninger's removed the tabernacle from the wall and formulated a plan with Fr. Marva to have the tabernacle refinished to its original beauty, also fabricating a new dome for the top with a finial that was similar in style to the original dome, which had been lost decades before.

St. Lawrence Altar
The next step in the design process was to determine how to utilize items that were already in use by the Church and integrate them into designing the sanctuary furniture and liturgical appointments, ideally utilizing available pieces from other closed Churches from the Diocese of Cleveland.  In reviewing what was available, Fr. Marva decided that the Altar of Sacrifice that had graced the sanctuary at the since-closed St. Lawrence Church in Cleveland would work very well in terms of the amount of marble contained within the Altar - to make multiple "new" pieces of furniture from one Altar - as well as the colors and design within the marble Altar of Sacrifice to adorn the still-to-be-built new Church for St. Agnes-Our Lady of Fatima.
Candlestick Style

In addition to the Altar of Sacrifice from St. Lawrence, Fr. Marva had a particular style of candlesticks that were currently in use at the Church that he wanted to incorporate into the new furniture, combining wood in the style of the candlesticks with the marble from the St. Lawrence Altar to create a new Altar of Sacrifice, Altar of Repose, and Ambo.  Because of the size of the mensa from the St. Lawrence Altar and the desired sizes of the new pieces to fit the new Church, Henninger's was able to come up with a plan to cut and re-purpose the mensa from the St. Lawrence Altar to present renderings to Fr. Marva.
Altar of Repose Rendering
Altar of Sacrifice Rendering

Ambo Rendering
With the designs approved and with the ground-breaking for the new Church about to begin, Henninger's went to work to re-purpose the marble from the old Altar of Sacrifice from St. Lawrence while creating the new wood components of the furniture.  Additionally, a Nigerian symbol that served as an emblem for the largely African-American community of St. Agnes-Our Lady of Fatima, was carved out of wood to adorn the front of the base of the newly-created Altar of Sacrifice and would serve as a complement to the Lamb of God symbol that would adorn the base of the newly-created Altar of Repose.

Additionally, the tabernacle refinishing was completed, with a newly-created dome and the decision was made to marbleize a band of wood that would go around the newly-refinished tabernacle in colors that would match and complement the marble components of the furniture.

As work continued on site for the new Church, Henninger's readied the components of the new furniture in preparation for their installation at the new Church.  Working in concert with the general contractor and the other trades, Henninger's arrived on site to install the three newly-created pieces of sanctuary as well as the newly-refinished tabernacle.

In addition to the new Sanctuary furniture, Henninger's worked with Fr. Marva to design a pew style that would fit in with the new open space and coordinated the arrival and installation of the pews for the dedication of the worship space by Bishop Richard Lennon on the night before Thanksgiving, 2015.  With the new pews and the flexible seating of the chairs that Henninger's provided for the Church, the new seating capacity of 325 nearly doubled the previous seating capacity.

As the dedication neared, the triumph of a new Church being built on Cleveland's near East Side had been accomplished, through the leadership and dedication of Fr. Marva.  A community that had grown from 150 families to nearly 400 families needed a new, larger worship space and - in keeping with the community's history as a merged parish between St. Agnes Church and Our Lady of Fatima Church in 1980 - the new building brought together the old and the new.  In utilizing the available marble from the St. Lawrence Altar and working to come up with designs that would fit into the new worship space, the process resulted in a beautiful success story of growth and rebirth.

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