This is from his blog, which you can access here: Labyrinthine Mind. Give him a bump in readership!
While I love traditional church architecture and art, as I have had for the past 31 years of my priesthood, I also love modern church architecture when it is done tastefully. The new Saint Anne Church in Richmond Hill, Georgia, a booming bedroom suburb of Savannah (downtown 20 miles away) is an example of the combination of contemporary and traditional that appeals to me. What also appeal to me as a pastor is that it is built of materials that need little or no maintenance like regular re-plastering and repainting on the inside. It is cruciform also and built with quality materials. The statues and art work are imported and quite beautiful and designed to be placed niches rather than just stuck on the wall.
I would love spending the rest of my active priesthood as a pastor there! Richmond Hill is near a federal nature preserve which is a part of Georgia's extremely important barrier islands--Ossabaw Island. Press here for a description of the island about 10 miles east of St. Anne's rectory and here is a picture of the uninhabited island which has a remarkable beach that is not open to the public and there is no road access:
I would love to be pastor of this Gilligan's Island only a stone's throw from St. Anne's Rectory in Richmond Hill, Georgia, but no road access! I'd have to get a barque!
Growth, New Church in the Bible BeltThis morning, Bishop Gregory Hartmayer, OFM Conv. dedicated the newest church in the Diocese of Savannah. In 1955, the Diocese purchased a small chapel built by Henry Ford in the 1930s in the town of Richmond Hill. This chapel held nondenominational services for workers of Ford Plantation, an enormous property owned by Ford which included farms and timber.
Saint Anne Parish has grown tremendously since 1955, especially in the last ten years during which Richmond Hill has experienced tremendous growth. The original five families have multiplied to over 900 registered households. This is due in part to a larger trend where northerners are moving to the South, and many of them are Catholic. This reality, along with immigration from Latin America, has increased the Catholic presence in South Georgia. Catholics have always been a minority in the Diocese of Savannah (currently less than 3% of the total population), and we are now facing the need to grow and to expand. Our faithful do not fit in our churches.
About one year ago, Bishop Hartmayer dedicated a new church for Saint Teresa of Avila Parish in Grovetown (near Augusta) that sits 1,200 and in two months, he will dedicate a new church in Ray city (near Valdosta) which will bring together three small missions into a centrally located, large, new church.
The parishioners of Saint Anne, along with their pastor, Father Joe Smith, sure are proud of their new magnificent church! As Bishop Hartmayer said in the homily, “Wisdom has built herself a house.”
These pictures are my own, all rights reserved.