Page 3, 27th November 1964

27th November 1964
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Page 3, 27th November 1964 — THANKSGIVING FOR ESCAPE
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THANKSGIVING FOR ESCAPE

A FULL investigation is being held at Garforth, Leeds, to find the reason for last week's collapse of the new £40,000 church of St. Benedict during the night. It was due to be opened on Sunday.

A senior lecturer at Leeds University, Prof. R. H. Evans, has been called in to help in the inquiry. The designer Mr. Derek Walker, 35, one of Britain's most promising young architects, is also examining the wrecked church with his constructional engineer.

So far the cause of collapse has not been established. But possibilities of a local earth tremor or a inning subsidence have been ruled out and the inquiry is concentrating on the design and structure of the church. "It is purely an internal matter," said Mr. Walker.

First reaction at Garforth was one of shock—the parish had been collecting money and waiting for the new church for seven years. This was followed by relief at the fact that nobody was in the building when it collapsed, and a thanksgiving Mass was celebrated immediately.

"'This has been a terrible disappointment to me and my parishioners", Fr. Alban Rimmer. 0.S.... the parish priest, said this week. "They have saved for years for this church and it is really theirs.

"We all have the strength and courage to go on, though. As soon as the problem is isolated and analysed we will start work again. If it is possible we will rebuild the present church. We need a church in this parish and we are going to have one", he said.

Fr. Rimmer expressed complete confidence in his architect. "He is a wonderful person and a man of genius, bold enough to break with tradition", he said. "He will handle the reconstruction of the church along lines to be discussed. I am deeply sorry for him".

The Abbot of Ampleforth, Fr. Basil Hume, 0.S.B., who was due to open the church, has promised his support to Fr. Rimmer. nN Monday the day after Mass in English begins throughout the country, Bishop Dwyer of Leeds open Holy Family Church in Pontefract, Yorks., a church that has been specially des :grk_. designed to make community participation in the Mass .,w

Architect Derek Walker of Leeds, who started planning 11w church three years ago, says that for the past century people have been building churches that express "a vague poetry" in an attempt to "look ecclesiastical".

Holy Family Church does not try to create a churchy atmosphere, he says. Instead, its design is "a strict functional approach" to encourage a 201h-century parish to join in community worship just as enthusiastically as the early Christians did.

Bishop Dwyer will open the church with a so/emit high Mass at 7.30 p.m.

The £40,000 building is made of ivory coloured brick. It seals a congregation of 400. There is very little decoration. • in order to draw attention to the altar, a plain, single slab of stone. (see picture above).

Over the altar Mr. Bob Brumby of Beverley. Yorks., has made a 3,000 piece mosaic, "Christ in Majesty". Its strong, masculine face is surrounded in gold. Mr. Brumby also sculpted a tall, young looking Holy Family on the west wall.

Fr. John E. Hudson, the parish priest, says that modern building techniques and materials make it possible to provide a place for active worship "far more effectively today than in the past".

The renewal in church architecture has been slower to catch on in England than elsewhere, he says, because "architecture, like any sincere art form, is a spontaneous expression of inner vitality, and hard fact must compel us to admit that English Catholicism is not as vital as we would all like it to be-.

The Pontefract church, opening just as the Vatican Council ends its third session and as Mass in English begins, may be a big step towards awakening that vitality.




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