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Could the classic New England church be adapted for Catholic worship?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Sep 18, 2013

Have you ever taken a drive through the New England countryside, and admired the beautiful old churches that are so often (as in the town where I live) set on picturesque town greens? I have always loved the elegant simplicity of those little white church buildings. When I was a little boy I thought it would be wonderful if someday they could become Catholic churches. I still think so today.

Unfortunately, the interiors of those old churches are stark and bare, reflecting the Puritan roots of their congregations. It’s difficult to imagine how they could be adapted to Catholic worship.

And yet… The churches are so attractive. They’re so conveniently located, with one or more in the center of every town. And in the near future they may be available, since so many of their congregations are dwindling toward the point of extinction. Dare we hope that, when the Catholic revival finally comes to New England, we might fill up the pews of those old buildings once again?

This story revives my hope. Duncan Stroik is an outstanding architect, with an excellent sense of what is required to create a sacred space for Catholic worship. If it can be done at the Crystal Cathedral, surely it can be done for a Bulfinch church!

So now if we can just get cracking on that Catholic revival,…

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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