Sunday, May 6, 2012

A ONCE SACRED PLACE, SACRED HEART CATHOLIC CHURCH, NOW A PROFANE PLACE, SACRED HEART CULTURAL CENTER, HOSTS THE NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER

A view of how it looked after 18 years of being closed:
FOR A VIRTUAL TOUR OF SACRED HEART CULTURAL CENTER IN AUGUSTA, GA PRESS THIS SENTENCE.
At the end of this post is a very brief video from the Augusta Chronicle website of the National Day of Prayer in Augusta on May 3rd. There are several things here that are odd and fascinating:

1. This Church was closed by the Diocese of Savannah in 1970 (and it was the symbol of Catholicism in Augusta and remains that even though so many years have passed since it closing) and Catholics can only use it for wedding receptions and the like.

2. It was sold to the Knox Foundation in 1986 and in desperate need of restoration. This practicing, philanthropic Methodist/Episcopal family sunk a couple of a million dollars in it to restore it and make it into a secular meeting place for any and all kinds of events including religious services of all types and some rather sad and unseemly events to be had in such a sacred, Catholic looking place.

3. The Knox family restored it as it looks, it could be used as a Catholic Church and for Mass at any time although it has not be used for such in 40 years. However, I did celebrate Solemn Sung Evening Prayer there for the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Church in the year 2000 and it was very Catholic! I also organized an interfaith prayer service there the on the first year anniversary of 9/11.

4. The Day of Prayer in the video below is ecumenical, but the music ministry and leadership for it is from the predominantly Catholic charismatic covenant community in Augusta called the Alleluia Community. It is their music ministry you hear.

5. The last speaker, the honorable Judge Danny Craig (he's only introduced and then the video ends) and former District Attorney in Augusta is related to Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, a practicing Catholic and he and his parents were former members of Sacred Heart Catholic Church and amongst those most disheartened by the its closing in 1970.

The video is very amateurish and short with a commercial preceding it. Sacred Heart Church was designed by the same Jesuit Brother who designed St. Joseph Church here in Macon, my parish. I often went to Sacred Heart as a child for Mass.

12 comments:

ytc said...

A most magnificent altar. It begs to be used.

Bill Meyer said...

It is disturbing to me that when the church was closed, the altar was left intact. Perhaps it is my own ignorance, but this seems to me to verge on sacrilege.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

When the parish was closed, the process by which it was closed and what happened afterward not only angered the Catholics in Augusta but the entire community, no matter the religious affiliation.
I have mixed feelings about dismantling everything though, because ever since it was closed in 1970 which as a teenager I was shocked by it too, I've always felt it would be returned to the Catholic Church and used again as a shrine or parish. SSPX would have a great stronghold if they attempted to buy it and make a mission there. All the more reason I hope they are regularized.

Anonymous said...

How would an SSPX parish in downtown Augusta affect Most Holy Trinity, your former parish?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I don't think it would kill Most Holy Trinity, but it would take some, but there is a wider group in the metro area of Augusta including N. Augusta in South Carolina and Aiken, South Carolina who would love it. I think you'd have a full Church at MHT if the EF was offered regularly and not just from Most Holy Trinity parishioners.

Carol H. said...

Why not ask the Bishop to buy it back, and then invite the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter to use it? They are available now, he has but to ask.

Templar said...

Bill: technically the Altar is just a hunk of stone, what makes it consecrated is the placement of the relics of the martyrs within the Sepulchrum, and then the Rites of consecration. Removing the relics from the Sepulchrum will render the Altar invalid for any Sacred Purpose.

At least, that's how it used to be done, with today's table Altars I can't even imagine where the Sepulchrum would be located. Maybe when Cranmer gave us his tables he told us not to worry about that silly old consecration thing. LOL

ytc said...

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, as I'm told by one of their priests, actually has a shortage of priests. They have massive vocations, but their ordination rate is still not high enough to fill demand. If they had another seminary, they could fill it quite quickly.

Anonymous said...

The Sacred Heart story is one from which we can take lessons - most importantly, the lesson of stewardship. The structure was built through the sacrificial giving of 100 families, which included my great grandfather, Samuel - the nephew of Elizabeth Ann Seton. In stark contrast, we are preparing to build the first Catholic church in Columbia County, pastored by Holy Spirit's former priest, Father Mike Ingram. With a parish of 1700 families, we know that there is simply no way that we will replicate the majestic tribute to our God that is so evident at St. Joseph's (where I attended while at Mercer Law School). As an aside, I attended law school (and served as an "altar boy" at
daily Mass at times)with Fr. Tom Healy who was then assigned to St. Joseph's - Macon, and is now pastor of St. Joseph's - Augusta, the boyhood parish of Fr. Allan McDonald. How's that for "small world." Danny Craig

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I hope that former pastor of Holy Spirit builds a beautiful traditional church! I think y'all are heading in that direction. I didn't know you knew about my blog, thanks for the comment Danny!

Pater Ignotus said...

The current regulations for altars and relics is, I believe, that the relics should be buried in the ground or placed in a "sepulchre" below the altar. This returns to the ancient Christian practice of celebrating the Eucharist over the grave(s) of the martyrs.

The consecration of an altar is accomplished through the prayers of the bishop who celebrates the ritual. The altar, like the forehead of a confirmation candidate, the hands of a priest, or the head of a bishop, is consecrated with Chrism.

ytc said...

I'd love to see some new American churches, or renovated ones, get the Roman-type altars, which consist of a bathtub-like thing with a whole body inside of them with an altar stone over the top. It is, quite literally, celebrating Mass over the graves of the saints and martyrs.