CL: Mother Church of the Chippewa Valley Completes Major Renovation

From a 16-foot x 18-foot log structure to a magnificent stone house of worship sitting atop a hill towering over the city, the Church of Notre Dame has maintained a commanding presence in Chippewa Falls since 1856.

Built in 1872 to replace the original log church, the mother church of the Chippewa Valley recently underwent a massive renovation. Reconstruction began below ground and didn’t stop until renovators hit the ceiling. The floor was ripped out and dirt excavated to remove the original wooden floor beams to accommodate new steel floor joists. New plumbing, heating, ventilation and electrical systems were installed throughout the building, with an updated mechanical room relocated underground beneath the sanctuary. Cracked plaster was replaced and new flooring, pews and lighting were installed. The choir loft and interior layout were reconfigured, along with many other improvements.

During the 10 months of renovations, parishioners could not worship in the church many families have called home for generations. Mass was celebrated in the Parish Life Center or the neighboring Heyde Center for the Arts — the latter of which was the original McDonell High School until 1968.
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  1. Beautiful high altar and painting of the Assumption. Sanctuary could use some work. Altar rail?

  2. Yes, I would have just used the beautiful and magnificent high altar. The pulpit and the altar "facing the people" does not match.

  3. And that's a good point. There's something that just doesn't "work" with free standing altars in traditional Catholic parishes. (Maybe because they were never meant to be there!) They're trying to "circle the square" and it always looks bad. So as a result, they disfigure the entire sanctuary to make it less awkward. But it still looks bad and we lose rich theological symbolism as a result. I give credit to parishes that are trying to make their interiors more traditional and beautiful, but we need to have a theologically informed process that guides the entire project and every detail of that project. This will, in turn, form the faithful in the pews. By insisting on the (very Protestant) versus populum arrangement, we continue to feed a narrative that liturgy is about a priest-parishioner dialogue.


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