Helping all people participate fully in liturgical celebraton by expanding handicapped accessibility to the entire church, narthex, sound/lighting systems and entrances.

The Sanctuary
In the Sacred Scripture we find the term Holy of Holies. It refers to the inner sanctuary of the Jewish Temple where God dwelt. There was kept the Ark of the Covenant said to contain the tablets of the Ten Commandments. In Catholic liturgical theology and architecture, the entire church is a sacred place. But the sanctuary holds a most special rank—the holiest space of the entire holy space.
The sanctuary is where the altar, ambo, and tabernacle stand, and where the priest, deacon and other ministers exercise their duties. The special character of the sanctuary is expressed by the distinctiveness of its design, furnishings, and elevation. It is from the sanctuary that we are fed from the Table of the Word (the ambo) and the Table of the Eucharist (the altar). Our refurbishment plan includes                                                                               enhancements that honor this area of the church.
The Ambo:
• Will be enlarged by combining the current ambo and cantor stand to form a substantial place for God’s Word.
• The place where the book of Sacred Scripture rests will be height adjustable for a person using a wheelchair.
The Altar:
• Simple brass detail will be added to the front of the altar to match the brass/marble design of the ambo and tabernacle.
The Tabernacle:
• Will be moved to the center of the sanctuary, as a witness that the Eucharist is the center of our lives.
• As required by Universal Church Law and Diocesan Directives, the door will be solid and opaque.
• Side panels with adoring angels will be added to further express that this is the most holy dwelling of Jesus, truly and really present in the Eucharist.
This article appeared in the bulletin published on February 5, 2017.

Ramp to the Sanctuary
Our parish welcomes everyone, including persons with disabilities. We remember both Father Delarm’s and Monsignor Topper’s courageous witness to us. Currently Monsignor Overbaugh, Deacon Flannery, and several parishioners who wish to serve in liturgical ministries are unable to climb the steps to the sanctuary. Our refurbishment plan will make the sanctuary (area of the altar, ambo, tabernacle, etc.) completely handicap accessible.
• The current configuration of four steps to the altar level and then two more steps to the chairs will be adjusted to a one-level three-step structure that still provides excellent sightlines for the entire assembly to see the sanctuary from the nave.
• Along the ambo side of the church, a ramp will be constructed behind a half-wall providing handicap access to the sanctuary. This wall provides the area for the Miraculous Medal to be enshrined, viewed, and venerated.
• To maintain symmetry, the architect has added a similar half-wall behind the choir. The area behind this wall will provide much needed storage for music and sound equipment as well as a small sacristy area for storage and preparing things needed during Mass.
This article appeared in the bulletin published on January 29, 2017.

A Place for Everyone: Making Seating Accessible
Our parish welcomes everyone, including persons with disabilities. Today, and in the coming weeks, we will share information on how seating, sound, sanctuary changes will make the vision a reality.
Our refurbishment plan will make sure that our pews and seating areas will be accessible and comfortable for everyone.
The seating for the assembly in the nave will be adjusted to allow for more room between the pews. The seating along the wall of the church will be retained.
By looking at the floor plan, it might appear that our seating capacity is reduced. Be assured that when we apply today’s best standards and norms for comfort and spacing to the seating configuration established in 1976, our seating capacity is reduced by only 16 seats.
We are also adding 12 places for wheelchairs in different areas throughout the church. The seating plan assures, whenever possible, that persons with disabilities or wheelchair accessible needs will have a choice of seating locations. Whenever possible, parishioners with disabilities will be able to be seated adjacent to companions so they may worship together.
This article appeared in the bulletin published on January 15, 2017.

The Confessionals: Places of Welcome and Mercy
When the family of God gathers, every person should be welcomed into the worshiping assembly with respect and care. God said through the Prophet Isaiah “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” The U.S. bishops stated it’s essential the Liturgy be completely accessible to persons with disabilities, since the Liturgy binds the Christian community together.
A major focus and reason for our Shrine Church refurbishment project is accessibility. We want to make sure that everyone not only can get into to our beautiful church, but once they are inside, that they can get around inside the church and celebrate the Sacraments. Therefore, our refurbishment plan includes extending handicap accessibility to the confessionals.
Our two confessionals will be:
• Reconfigured to allow persons using a wheelchair or other mobility assistive equipment to enter and navigate within the confessional. These modification will be made to both priest and penitent side.
• Equipped with assistive listening devices to allow those with hearing impairments to celebrate the Sacrament with dignity.
• Refreshed and renewed with improved sound proofing floor and wall coverings as well as warm and inviting lighting to welcome penitents as they seek God’s help and mercy.
Our refurbished confessionals will provide a prayerful and accessible sacred space for all to encounter Jesus, Who heals our hearts and forgive our sins.
This article appeared in the bulletin published on January 8, 2017.


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