In addition to that, a portion of the central railing was removed to accommodate a pulpit.
The position of the railing and gates truncated the size of the altar area especially when the first of two ugly free-standing altars (ironing board types) were placed in front of the magnificent old high altar and reredos.
In the 1970's all the gates were removed except for one side gate and discarded. No one knows where these gates went but we believe antique dealers may have gotten and sold them.
In 2004 it made sense to remove this railing and since this was prior to Pope Benedict and his emphasis of "reform of the reform in continuity" it was thought that altar railings were useless.
But today with the Extraordinary Form of the Mass allowed as a legitimate and sacred option for worship and the recovery of popular devotions and kneeling for prayer and also the legitimate option of kneeling for Holy Communion without shame or ridicule, the altar railing is no longer looked upon as a barrier but as an extension of the altar and a touchable, accessible icon of it.
So about two years ago a discussion was begun with the Pastoral Council and a complete and unanimous consensus was reached that the altar railing should be restored.
The unanimous consensus was conveyed to Bishop Hartmayer and he approved of the decision. Then a small fund raiser was carried out and as if God Himself endorsed our plan, out of the blue a large, large bequest was given to us in a Last Will and Testament of a wonderful parishioner who requested her bequest be used for sanctuary improvements only!
All this took place within a year! And yesterday, March 14th, 2014, almost ten years after the decision was made to remove the altar railing, Bishop Hartmayer signed the contract to have the construction begin.
The extension of the floor should start in about a couple of weeks. The marble and brass gates will take longer to fabricate but I pray it will be installed in the next six months. But the floor will be ready to receive it when it arrives.
Previously, the altar railing was on the third step up from the nave. The restored altar railing and gates will be on the first step from the congregation. With the first step extended to accommodate the railing and allow for kneeling on one side and amble room for movement on the other side, the sanctuary itself will be enlarged (and visually appear to be much larger and more balanced) and allow for better flow and arrangements for weddings, RCIA rituals and other blessings during Mass.
Through the generosity of a handful of generous benefactors and a substantial bequest from a last will and testament, St. Joseph Church will proceed with the restoration of its altar railing. The new one will look as the old one except for its placement. It will be placed on the first step leading to the altar from the nave. This entails extending this step into the congregation to accommodate it. The gates will look similar to what was original. We only have one gate from the original which we were able to locate and it is pictured below as well:
This is the look of the Church as it is today: