Support the restoration of our sanctuary space!
Click the above logo to go to Holy Comforter’s Online Giving form. Log into your account, create a new one if you wish to switch your regular parish support from checks/cash to online giving, or select “Quick Give” to provide a one-time gift and show of support. Then simply select the “Sanctuary Renovation Project” under the “Fund” drop-down and enter the amount of your gift.
As of May 14, we have raised more than $69,200. Thank you for your support of this noble and worthwhile project!
We expect our sanctuary restoration project, which includes moving our altar and ambo to their proper places, constructing an altar of repose, procuring a portable metal ramp to allow individuals with disabilities to access the ambo and installing a pair of side shrines under the statues of St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary, to cost approximately $150,000.
In an effort to be prudent and responsible stewards of the parish’s finances, this project is being completed in phases. The first, most time-consuming and expensive phase, is moving the altar of sacrifice to the center of the sanctuary, moving the ambo, building a new altar of repose for the Blessed Sacrament and installing a new tile and stone floor for the entire sanctuary area.
We will then turn our attention to the side shrines as time and our financial situation permits. The trim work on the back wall will be installed last, again, finances permitting.
Important Questions About the Restoration
- Who has been involved in this project?
The Diocese of Richmond originally approached the parish in 2013 about restoring the sanctuary. Efforts to bring this project to completion, as currently envisioned, have been underway since February 2017. The pastoral council endorsed the design of our architect in an August 2017 meeting. The Diocese’s architectural review board, following an intensive review, endorsed the project in early December 2017. Former Diocesan administrator Msgr. Lane provided his final authorization later that same month.
- How will the restoration affect Mass?
Daily Masses were moved to the Chapel during demolition and construction. Sunday Masses continued to be celebrated in the church at their usual times. When the existing altar and ambo became temporarily unavailable for use, the wooden altar in the chapel and lectern holding the prayer book in the Commons was brought into the church for Sunday Mass.
4/10 UPDATE: Daily Masses are once again being offered in the church. They will be moved to the Chapel during the week of May 7 while the new altar of repose is being assembled in the sanctuary.
5/21 UPDATE: The altar of repose is finished! A crucifix for the high altar is currently being fabricated and will be added when complete.
- When will work begin and when is it expected to be completed?
Demolition and construction began shortly after Ash Wednesday. The flooring was replaced and the existing altar and ambo moved, and were usable, beginning on Palm Sunday.
4/10 UPDATE: Work is currently paused in the church while the altar of repose is being produced at Rugo Stone’s facility in northern Virginia. Rugo will return in early May to build the foundation for the altar and then assemble the pieces it produced at its facility. We anticipate the new altar for the Blessed Sacrament being in place before Pentecost. Right now, the target date for completion is May 12.
5/21 UPDATE: While we missed the May 12 target date for the new altar, it was completed on May 18. Our church celebrated its feast, Pentecost, welcoming this beautiful new addition to the sanctuary.
- We are currently bidding the trim work to see if it is feasible and cost-effective to add. We are also looking at making changes to the floors in the “wings” behind the statues of Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary, as well as evaluating the cost/benefit of the side shrines.
As with any construction project, this timeline is subject to change. We will update the parish on any changes!
- Will this be the only beautification effort in the Holy Comforter 2020 initiative?
No! There is much work to be done in our church to prepare it for the next generation. While we have some ideas, we need your input. And, even more, we need your support and willingness to help bring other projects to fruition. We’ve seen that already beginning with one supporter of our parish building a creche scene and placing it in our courtyard for Christmastide! If you have an idea or want to get involved, please contact the parish office here.
Father Joseph Mary’s request for support
Parishioners and supporters of Holy Comforter,
For a number of months in the latter half of 2017, I wrote about the need to break through barriers and prepare ourselves for the 140th anniversary of our parish. With this momentous occasion on the horizon, now is a prime opportunity to define our parish and its mission for generations to come.
As a downtown church we have had a firm and unwavering commitment to the poor, the hungry and the homeless in Charlottesville. This must never change. For the Lord repeatedly told us during His earthly ministry that we must feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty and clothe the naked in order to enter the Kingdom. To that end, we have already completed an important project to refurbish our basement so we can better provide for the corporal needs of our community.
But what about the community’s spiritual needs? For man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. As Pope Francis has said, if we merely minister to the body’s needs but do not also proclaim the Gospel, then the Church becomes merely a non-governmental organization (NGO). Material poverty is decreasing around the world and that is wonderful. But today, especially in our society, we are becoming more and more spiritually impoverished.
In so many other cities, downtown Catholic churches are havens. Physical havens for those who have nowhere else to turn, but even moreso they are spiritual havens from the oppression of business, noise, anxiety and worldliness that surrounds them.
Amid the cacophony of New York City, one can step inside of St. Patrick’s, Holy Innocents or any number of smaller churches in Manhattan and immediately find tranquility. The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, the Old Cathedral next to the arch, and the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales, built by poor German immigrants, transport citizens of the Gateway to the West to the realms of Heaven. Closer to our earthly home, the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart offers spiritual respite for those who live and work in downtown Richmond.
Charlottesville is expanding at a rapid pace. It is no longer a small town, but a bustling city. This change provides us an opportunity to, at least in some small ways, become a true “downtown” church that serves the physical needs of the community while at the same time being a place where one can find sanctuary from the clamor of the world.
One important way we can do this is by undertaking an effort to beautify our church – especially the sanctuary – and turn it into a true jewel.We need you and all of our parishioners to aid us in this effort to move the altar and tabernacle to the physical center of our church and place the Real Presence of Christ at the center of each of our hearts.
Christ must be the focal point of our lives. Given that He is most fully present – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity – in the Eucharist, it is only fitting that our lives, and our church, be centered on the Blessed Sacrament.
Our plan to physically center on Christ at all times, especially during Mass, will help our congregation refocus its interior life on Him who made all that was made. Right now, one’s eye is more or less drawn to the presider, not the altar and not the Blessed Sacrament. The focal point of our parish cannot be the pastor, it must be Christ.But the church’s present configuration does not reflect this reality. It instead subtly points us towards the priest, as opposed to clearly pointing us to Christ Himself.
The Pastoral Council has endorsed an architectural design that will allow everyone who attends Mass at Holy Comforter to be consistently reminded of what we pray during the Memorial Acclamation: “We proclaim your death O Lord, and profess your resurrection, until you come again” and that “by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free.”
To that end, I am asking you to pray for the success of this project and consider providing financial assistance to bring it to completion, so that we may be able to fund this project while leaving our Building Fund intact to complete additional beautification efforts and make necessary repairs and updates to the rest of the building as we head into 2020.
Please prayerfully consider how you can help us in this very worthy project, which has been endorsed by the Diocese.
I thank you for your continued support of this parish.
May God bless you!
-Father Joseph Mary Lukyamuzi