Renovating Churches with Style, Grace, and Truth

Parish

St. Augustine's Parish
Bridgeport, CT
Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport
United States

More Info

For more information, email Henry Hardinge Menzies.

Architect Henry Hardinge Menzies combines architectural excellence and an exquisite sense of the sacred in his church renovations.

The need it meets

Many pastors today are faced with the challenge of repairing, renovating, or constructing sacred spaces. Combining modern architectural forms and technologies with authentic Catholic liturgical standards in these projects has proved to be difficult. Menzies’ approach breaks the impasse. Over time and through much experience, he has wed the advances of modern architecture with the Church’s directives in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and in the latest liturgical guidelines issued by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

Where it came from

In this case study, Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., contacted Henry Hardinge Menzies, an accomplished architect in New Rochelle, NY. Menzies has done extensive work in institutional, residential, and church projects, including 15 Catholic centers and 3 Marian shrines. His work was exhibited at the Reconquering Sacred Space Exhibition in Rome in 1999, and he has given various lectures and written numerous articles on church architecture.

How it works

Start by researching Menzies’ work through the photos and articles at www.hmenzies.com, where you can see the results of Menzies’ renovations on 17 different church projects.

The results

The decision to renovate St. Augustine’s Church in Bridgeport, Conn. was the initiative of Bishop Lori. The original church had been built in 1865, but was not designed as a cathedral. Now it is the episcopal see of Bridgeport. More space was required in the sanctuary for important liturgical celebrations. Previous renovations from 1978 had stripped the church of most of its artwork and decorations.

The unveiling of the renovations of St. Augustine’s on December 2nd, 2003, the 50th anniversary of the installation of the first bishop of Bridgeport in that very same church, was a spectacular success:

  • Restoring the church's original Gothic splendor while using the ‚Äúlanguage‚Äù and technology of contemporary architecture.
  • Fully respecting the latest liturgical guidelines issued by the Holy See.
  • Revitalizing veneration for the Holy Eucharist by giving the altar and the tabernacle a prominent place surrounded in dignity and beauty.
  • Enlarging the sanctuary to permit special liturgical ceremonies, such as ordinations.
  • Adding a catechetical element through statuary, stained glass, mosaics, and other decorative elements such as triptychs and reliefs.
  • The wooden pews, stations of the cross, balcony railing, and organ enclosure were stripped and carefully refinished.
  • The stained glass windows were repaired and renovated, with a new protective glass added to the exterior.
  • The organ was removed and completely renovated, with the pipes refinished in a muted gold color.
  • A new roof was installed.
  • Handicap access was extended and improved in various areas.

Key elements

  • A budget for the renovation project.
  • Key elements will vary according to specific circumstances.

How to implement it

  • Contact Henry Hardinge Menzies at hmenzies@gmail.com to set up the first stage of consultation and proposal-drafting.
  • The implementation stages of each project will vary depending on the specific circumstances.

Bishop William E. Lori is pastor of St. Augustine's Parish.

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