Previous Page Table Of Contents Next Page


with Five Challenges for
Building and Renovating Churches
in the Twenty-first Century

Michael E. Komechak, O.S.B.

Three significant events among others coincided with the Benedictine Sesquimillennium in 1980, the 1500th anniversary of the birth date traditionally associated with St. Benedict.

The first was the publication by the Liturgical Press of a new translation into English of the Rule of St. Benedict accompanied by a historical orientation, expositions of monastic topics, and classified reference resources. Since its publication, RB 1980 has stimulated greater understanding of the Rule by subsequent translations and commentaries, most notably by Aquinata Böckman, Terrence Kardong, and Michael Casey.

The second was a study in three volumes with over 1,000 illustrations of The Plan of St. Gall by art historian Walter Horn and architect Ernest Born published by the University of California Press in 1979. The plan itself was drawn about the year 820 to guide monastic builders in the age of Charlemagne. It is known as the Plan of St. Gall because it was sent to the Abbey of St. Gall in Switzerland over 1,100 years ago at an abbot's request. Re-drawings of the plan, such as this one in the tenth edition of Gardner's Art Through the Ages, indicate a modular system with clearly defined units in the monastic enclosure.

Exhibitions of site models of the Plan of St. Gall traveling throughout the United States and Europe furthered interest in the historical, cultural, and spiritual contexts of monastic architecture. Lorna Price writes in her book, The Plan of St. Gall in Brief (University of California Press, 1983), that despite its antiquity, the document's ground plans and inscriptions reveal an astonishing congruence with modern concerns of community planning, technology, and efficient use of resources.

When we read the Rule of St. Benedict, we find no mention of an architectural plan for a monastery. As we consider the Rule, however, in some of its details (such as that everything should be done in the enclosure of the monastery; that care be taken for the monks regarding food, sleep, clothing, and storage; that there be a schedule of daily activities) we can estimate what a design of a monastery might look like, as did the unknown architect of the Plan of St. Gall.

The third event was the publication of thirteen of thirty papers given in six days at the symposium titled "Monasticism and the Arts" sponsored by the Yale Divinity School Religion and Art Program and by St. Anselm's Abbey in Washington, DC. Edited by Timothy Verdon and assisted by John Dally, the book, also titled Monasticism and the Arts, was published by Syracuse University Press in 1984. In the final chapter titled "Contemporary Monastic Architecture and Life in America," Kevin Seasoltz illustrated the rich diversity of monastic living that is possible in the modern milieu.

A doctoral dissertation for Columbia University in 1973 by Howard Niebling, "Monastic Churches Erected by American Benedictines since World War II," was a major reference. An architectural historian at Gannon College in Erie, Pennsylvania, Niebling, summarized his dissertation in two articles published in the June and September 1975 issues of the American Benedictine Review. In all eighteen buildings he described, Father Niebling noted their positive elements and their weaknesses. He selected as most significant the monastic churches of Christ in the Desert in Abiquiu, New Mexico, and St. Procopius in Lisle, Illinois.

Kevin Seasoltz recognized the positive contributions to the living tradition of creative monastic architecture in his 1980 review of thirteen monastic churches and monasteries in the United States. He concluded, however, that "in times of great cultural uncertainty and insecurity like our own, there is a strong temptation to indulge in romanticism and nostalgia, to settle for forms that are known and familiar, and to abdicate one's responsibility to share in the creation of a new future."

Spring-boarding from these studies, I present for your consideration five challenges in the building and renovation of churches in the twenty-first century:

Although we have the guidelines of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops titled "Built of Living Stones" and the new revision of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, we are confronted by choices regarding these challenges. For the most part, these challenges have been successfully resolved in the last two decades by the following examples of monastic architecture. I think that these churches and monasteries are prophetic. They provide direction and inspiration for the twenty-first century in this period of transition following the Second Vatican Council.

Four Renovated Churches with Four Different Settings

I. The repair and maintenance of buildings, especially those constructed in the early 1900s, often demand considerable cost. These four monastic communities spent millions of dollars in modernizing their churches. St. Vincent Archabbey renovated its basilica in the 1990s. I took this photograph of the façade of the church with its statue of Boniface Wimmer at the 1998 ABA convention in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Major structural, mechanical, and liturgical modifications were for the most part completed. Since then, spires have been added to the towers.

The altar was moved from the apse to the intersection of the nave and transepts so that the altar is related to the choir and to the nave, especially since the basilica is also a parish church. The chair of the priest celebrant is located in the apse when an assembly gathers in the monastic choir for the Liturgy of the Word and the assembly around the altar for the Eucharist as shown during the ABA convention. The chair and the ambo are positioned on the altar platform for parish Masses. While the south transept has been converted into a Blessed Sacrament chapel, the north transept has become a chapel for wakes and for remembering the deceased of the community. Offices and a gift shop were added to accommodate parishioners and visitors.

The monastery building of 1967 replaces a sizable section of the abbey destroyed by fire in 1963. The seven-story, delta-shaped building, which contains 200 monks' rooms, common bathrooms, recreation rooms, small chapels, and an infirmary, is linked with the older buildings by a concrete bridge.

II. St. Meinrad Archabbey renovated its church twice since the Second Vatican Council. Completed in 1907, the church was built on two levels with the choir higher than the nave. In the 1940s, Gregory de Witt of Mont Cesar Monastery in Louvain, Belgium, painted a large figure of Christ in the apse. The floor was leveled in 1968 and a freestanding altar placed near the entrance to the church to form two separate spaces for the Liturgies of the Word and Eucharist.

Those attending the ABA convention in 2000 viewed the second renovation completed three years earlier. Most remarkable is the patterned marble and terrazzo floor uniting the two spaces. Seventeen gilded bronze panels on each of the four sides of a five-foot square altar depict the life of Christ. Its font stands near the main entrance of the church on axis with the altar. A Blessed Sacrament chapel is located in the apse behind the casework of the pipe organ. After closing its college and expanding its graduate theology program, the monks of St. Meinrad built a monastery unit unlike the one at St. Vincent Archabbey.

Triangular in plan with a circular refectory extending into the cloister garden, the longitudinal monastery has a pitched roof to relate to the gabled abbey church. The two buildings are connected with a covered walkway.

In February 1998, the St. Meinrad Archabbey Church was awarded first place in the national Potente Liturgical Design Competition.

III. Frank Kacmarcik assisted the Sisters of St. Benedict Monastery as liturgical design consultant in the early1980s renovation of their neo-classical Sacred Heart Chapel. What had been the apse became the entrance to the worship space. A monumental plaza with a ramp for the physically challenged leads into a large gathering place flanked by arched colonnades with a great skylight revealing the dome over the crossing of the church. Before entering the worship space, one may visit the Blessed Sacrament chapel to the left of the main door. After entering the church, one is confronted by a large font on axis with the altar below the dome over the crossing. The four columns of the altar relate in design to the colonnades of the church and gathering place. A reliquary sits at the base of the altar. A pipe organ is positioned in one of the two transepts.

Frank Kacmarcik designed the altar, ambo, chair of the priest celebrant, and the bench pews. Clear, faceted glass replaced stained glass windows to lighten the space. The Sisters decided to remove the choir from the church and build an oratory below the gathering place. The ambo is flanked by ramped banks of pews for antiphonal celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours.

IV. Another innovative renovation is revealed in the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of New Melleray in Peosta, Iowa, near Dubuque. The Gothic-styled chapel on the second floor of the north wing had been modified after the Second Vatican Council. Rather than build a new church as they had intended earlier, the monks gutted the north wing in 1973. Using the full height of the north wing for the church and its attached wing for a chapter house, the monks developed a distinctive environment under the direction of Frank Kacmarcik, liturgical design consultant, and Theodore Butler, architect for the Minneapolis firm of Hammel, Green and Abrahamson.

A granite font is located near the entrance on axis with the granite altar. The ambo stands on axis in the middle of the choir. In the rear of the church are bench pews for laypersons making a retreat. The altar and the chair of the presider celebrant are positioned behind the altar. A wood partition separates the assembly from the Blessed Sacrament chapel. The chapter house has open trusses similar to the church. Frank Kacmarcik designed all the furnishings for the church and chapter house. The American Institute of Architects conferred an honor award in 1977 on New Melleray for excellence in design.

Two Innovative Churches Built in the 1990s

I. Becoming an abbey independent of St. Meinrad Archabbey in 1947, Marmion Abbey in Aurora, Illinois, contracted Edo Belli of Chicago the following year to design its monastery with a chapel forming a wing projecting forward from the main mass of the building. The monastery was completed in 1950. Eventually the monks hired the architectural firm of Priscoe, Serena, and Sturm in Northbrook, Illinois, to design their abbey church attached to the monastery. It was completed in August 1998 and accommodates about 500 persons. The church is oriented to the northwest to relate it to the monastery entrance. The church's swooping roofline, however, contrasts the low-hipped roof of the monastery.

Liturgical consultant John Buscemi was involved in the programming. The abbey church is diamond shaped in plan. Its bell tower rises on the southwest corner, the tall window for the gathering space on the southeast corner, and the window of the Marian chapel on the northeast corner. The enclosed entrance is located next to the bell tower. A long curvilinear window wall protected by four piers admits light in the gathering space, which is separated from the body of the church by another window wall. The main aisle bisects pews for the laity and choir stalls for the monks who flank the altar. Fir posts and beams form a passageway on two sides of the assembly. Another aisle separates the choir from the main body.

The architect designed the altar, ambo, and font in granite with the floor covered in slate imported from India. The font under a skylight is located at a major intersection of passageways from the monastery to the church, to the Blessed Sacrament chapel on the right, and to the Marian chapel on the left. A statue of Our Lady of Einsiedeln stands prominently in the Marian chapel where Mass may be celebrated for small groups.

II. In the May issue of Worship, Abbot Francis Kline of the Cistercian Monastery of Our Lady of Mepkin in South Carolina describes the planning of the new abbey church to replace a former one under Frank Kacmarcik, while he honors the liturgical design consultant who died at age eighty-four on February 22, 2004. When friends and I visited Mepkin on the morning of May 31, 2002, we marveled at the beauty of the abbey plantation of 3,700 acres on Lake Moultrie and the west branch of the Cooper River. Henry and Clare Boothe Luce, who are buried there, had donated the property to the Cistercians of Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky for the foundation of a monastery. [Abbot Francis died on August 27, 2006. Ed.]

Near the main entrance of the church stands the granite altar at the crossing of two side entrances. The lantern on the exterior emphasizes the altar below it. A granite font is positioned beyond the altar on the same axis with the ambo and the chair. Choir stalls flank the center aisle. The casework for the pipe organ is elevated over the entrance with chairs and bench pews for visitors. Clerestory windows run the length of the room. The Blessed Sacrament chapel is located near the entrance. Since the completion of the abbey church, a library and conference center was constructed near the abbey entrance.

The American Institute of Architects bestowed its religious architecture design award in 1995 on the church for excellence in religious architecture with credit to Frank Kacmarcik and to Ted Butler, who had worked with the liturgical designer on many church projects.

The First Grand-Scale Modern Monastic Church

Many of us remember the excitement in 1953 when the monks of Saint John's Abbey in Collegeville selected the Hungarian-born and Bauhaus-trained architect, Marcel Breuer, to design a master plan for the monastery and university campus. Rather than imitate the Romanesque style of their existing buildings, the monks opted for modern architecture. In his letter to Breuer and to the other eleven architects considered for the project, Abbot Baldwin wrote in part:

The Benedictine tradition at its best challenges us to think boldly and to cast our ideals in forms which will be valid for centuries to come, shaping them with all the genius of present-day materials and techniques. We feel that the modern architect with his orientation toward functionalism and honest use of materials is uniquely qualified to produce a Catholic work. In our position it would, we think, be deplorable to build anything less, particularly since our age and our country have thus far produced so little truly significant religious architecture.

Saint John's Abbey and University Church was the first ecclesial building ever designed by Breuer. Whitney Stoddard writes about the planning and design of the church and monastery in his book, Adventure in Architecture -- Building the New Saint John's, published in 1958 by Longmans, Green and Company.

After the monastic wing was completed in the fall of 1955, construction started on the church in the spring of 1958. It was consecrated in August 1961. The church is grand in scale. It can accommodate 1,200 persons in the nave, 600 in the rear balcony, 264 in the monastic choir. Moreover, the Assumption chapel downstairs seats 460 persons. Behind it is the Saint Benedict's chapel with choir stalls flanking the altar and pews in back to seat 20 persons. On either side of the Assumption chapel is a row of small private chapels, 17 in each row. The church in all its parts is described in a booklet produced by the abbey in successive editions, the fourth printed in 1965. Persons and companies involved in the planning and construction of the church, including Frank Kacmarcik as art director, are listed on the last page.

The bell banner, standing 112 feet high, serves as a triumphal arch and reflector for the honeycombed window wall of the church. Two atrium stairways lead down into the crypt. The baptistery surrounded by a concrete wall is three steps lower than the floor to indicate the meaning of the sacrament as the dying and rising with Christ. A large font stands below three adjoining skylights symbolizing the Trinity.

The baptistery, the altar and the abbot's throne rest on the axis around which the church is organized. The two wings of the monastic choir define the sanctuary as a great horseshoe with the altar in the center. The altar, ambo, and four communion stations relate in color and material. Above the baldachin is a lantern admitting light over the sanctuary. At the rear of the nave is a balcony raised on concrete piers independent of the walls. Parallel corridors link the church and the new monastery as indicated in the plan. A twelfth-century Romanesque Madonna and Child is enshrined in the northeast corner of the church. A relic chapel is located in the crypt at the rear of the Assumption chapel.

There have been various changes in the use of the church by the abbey and university over the years since the Second Vatican Council and presumably more will be made. Originally positioned on the main altar, the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in a small chapel at the rear corner of the church. Today, both monks and guests occupy the choir stalls. Concelebrated liturgies have limited the need for the small chapels in the lower level. Some of the rooms in the monastic wing have been restructured. A visitor's center occupies the former abbey church now called the Great Hall. The figure of Christ remains in the apse. Clement Frischauf, a monk of Seckau Abbey in Germany, painted it in 1934.

The First Modern Monastery for Sisters

Impressed by what Marcel Breuer had done at Saint John's, the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery contracted him to design a new complex for themselves and for their college students on a site overlooking the Missouri River seven miles south of Bismarck, North Dakota. The various buildings, completed in two phases by 1963, are connected by covered but open walkways. A 110-foot bell tower stands on axis to the font in the entrance of the chapel and to its altar in the sanctuary. The plan indicates the monastery wing and the Sisters' community room adjacent to the church. The Sisters' refectory and the students' dining room flank a smaller chapel. A residential wing completes the complex.

Those of us who participated in the Mass concluding the 2002 ABA convention in Bismarck remember the colorful interior of the chapel. The concrete ceiling and fieldstone walls are painted white. The screen behind the altar is gold leafed; the baldachin is painted primary blue; the floor is polished black brick; the oak pews and choir stalls dark-stained. Colored glass-in-concrete windows flank the choir area and nave. A small tabernacle is imbedded in the wall near a large banner in the sanctuary.

Since the growth of the University of Mary on the same campus, the Sisters reside in a new monastery building with its own chapel designed by an architectural firm in Bismarck. The university uses the former monastery as a Benedictine Center for Servant Leadership. At the time of the 2000 convention, the small chapel in the Breuer complex was not in use.

A Pre-Conciliar Monastic Church with a Circular Plan

Another preconciliar monastic church but entirely different in style and plan is the Abbey and Parish Church of St. Mary and St. Louis on Mason Road in St. Louis, Missouri. Founded in 1955 by monks from Ampleforth Abbey in England, the community contracted Gyo Obata, chief designer in the St. Louis firm of Hellmuth, Obata, and Kassabaum, to design a church, a monastic wing, and several school buildings. As in Breuer's case, Obata had never designed a Catholic church.

Consecrated in 1962, the church is the most striking building in the complex with its two circles of superimposed parabolic vaults and a lantern in the center over the altar. The circular plan indicates the placement of the monks' stalls although the configuration has been modified since then. The Blessed Sacrament is reserved in one of the bays of the church. Shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and other saints are contained in the other bays.

A Monastic Church in a Regional Style

Situated at the end of a thirteen-mile road off Highway 84 in the Chama River Canyon in northern New Mexico, the small church of Christ in the Desert Monastery relates to the Spanish adobe style of the Southwest. This is a view of the church one mile from the retreat house that helps support the monastic community. Father Aelred Wall, formerly of the Portsmouth Abbey in Rhode Island and Mt. Saviour Monastery in New York, founded Christ in the Desert in 1964. His friend, architect George Nakashima of New Hope, Pennsylvania, known more for his furniture, designed the church free of charge. Farm buildings on the property were renovated for use as a monastery.

Stan Davis and his construction crew from Santa Fe started the church in the summer of 1965. The church was used for the first time for Christmas Mass the following year. It is essentially a Greek cross in plan with the entrance arm extended to form a porch and a sacristy added at the rear.

A tower with a simple cross rises to the right of the entrance. The body of the church is covered by a lantern, its ceiling made of small beams and poles in Southwestern style. A painted cabinet for the Blessed Sacrament stands in the left arm, a statue of Mary in the opposite arm. Depending on the liturgy, the ambo is placed in various places near the altar while the monks flank it for the Liturgy of the Hours and for Mass.

When the retired Santa Fe contractor Stan Davis and I visited Christ in the Desert Monastery on, June 24, 1998, the feast of St. John the Baptist, we attended the solemn profession of one of the monks and viewed the new monastery building attached to the church. On the side were adobe bricks for a visitor's center under construction. A thriving community under the leadership of Abbot Phillip Lawrence, Christ in the Desert has affiliate monasteries in Chicago and in Mexico.

A Post-Conciliar Abbey Church and Monastery
in Its Own New Setting

"St. Procopius Abbey is possibly the finest modern church and monastery in the world," said Rembert Weakland when, as abbot primate of the International Benedictine Federation, he blessed the church and monastery in 1970. The American Institute of Architects bestowed upon the abbey its highest national honor award in 1973. The AIA jury stated that the abbey, designed by Chicago architect Edward Dart with Frank Kacmarcik as liturgical design consultant, was "a religious complex endowed with inspired simplicity, devoid of mannerism, yet rich in meaning." The Chicago Chapter of the AIA selected the abbey in 1993 for its twenty-five-year honor award because of the enduring merit of its design. Unfortunately, Edward Dart died at the age of fifty-three of a brain aneurysm in 1975. Among many other award-winning buildings, he left a legacy of twenty-six churches for eight Christian denominations.

Founded in 1885 at St. Procopius Church in Chicago to minister to Czech and Slovak immigrants, the monks eventually moved to Lisle where they constructed a large building from 1901 to 1915 to contain a monastery, seminary, college, and academy. In 1961, Barry Byrne was contracted to design an abbey church next to this main building on campus called Benedictine Hall. With the death of Abbot Ambrose Ondrak in December 1961 and with the appointment of an administrator, the project was closed.

In 1964, Abbot Daniel Kucera was elected abbot. The academy was relocated in the former St. Joseph Orphanage to the north. The seminary would be closed in 1967. The community resolved to turn over the 110-acre campus to the college that eventually became known as Illinois Benedictine College, and then as Benedictine University. After contracting Edward Dart, principal in the Chicago firm of Loebl, Schlossman, Bennett and Dart, the Lisle monks decided in 1966 to build their church and monastery on eighty acres across the road in sight of their two schools and Sacred Heart Monastery. Construction started two years later.

From this view of the model [projected on a screen], the abbey looks like a series of twelve connected units arranged in a circle around a cloister park. But the complex is a single building conceived by Dart as a volute. The abbey church stands at the apex, while the monastery spirals from the church in segments stepping down a twenty-foot slope. Although the building blends into the hillside, it can be seen from nearby Benet Academy and Benedictine University.

What follows is a walk through the main parts of the building. All but the cloister with forty-eight private rooms for monks is open to the public. A visitor approaches the entrances through a sheltered court and is greeted by a welded bronze sculpture of St. Procopius, an eleventh-century Slavic monk, by Chicago artist Richard Hunt. The bell tower and clerestory window can be seen extending from the Marian Chapel off the lobby to the left. A contemporary tapestry of the Vladimir Madonna and a thirteenth-century statue of the Madonna and Child represent the bi-ritual heritage of the Procopian community. The Blessed Sacrament chapel may be entered on the right side of the lobby. Straight ahead is a room bathed with light from the East as a reminder of the death-resurrection mystery in the sacrament of baptism. The font of carnelian granite holds 144 gallons of water.

One enters a dark passageway into the church. It is designed as two distinct spaces with a 14 by 90 foot clerestory window defining the altar and the monastic choir. The monks occupy bench pews facing the altar at the east end, similar to those used by the lay community. Although Frank Kacmarcik designed the bench pews, the architect designed the altar, ambo, and chair of the priest presider. During the Liturgy of the Hours, two cantors face the monks as they alternate with them in singing the antiphons, psalms, and responsorial verses.

About 300 persons join the monastic community for the conventual Mass on Sunday morning. Otherwise, since the church can accommodate 800 persons, it is used for convocations, commencement exercises, sacred concerts, and, of course, for monastic professions, ordinations, and funerals. On the Monday before Thanksgiving, representatives of various religious groups in DuPage County, including Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and Jews, participate in a thanksgiving service coordinated by two monks of the abbey involved in Monastic Interreligious Dialogue.

The altar, ambo, and chair of the priest celebrant are movable so that the sanctuary may become a staging area. A passageway near the organ console connects to the Blessed Sacrament chapel.
Other major rooms are available to the public. Dinners for professions, ordinations, and funerals, and other events are hosted in the refectory. Many various groups, including Overeaters Victorious and Alcoholics Anonymous, meet in the chapter room often on Saturdays. The chapter room is used for special prayer services by the monastic community; for example, the washing of feet by the abbot on Holy Thursday.

To insure greater silence and to afford distinct views of the cloister garden and surrounding woods, the monks' rooms, each with its own bathroom and built-in closet, are placed on one side of the corridor as the plan indicates. The monks foresee the use of designated sections in the cloister as guest rooms. The infirmary includes fourteen rooms for infirm monks who may have outside visitors. All the main rooms of the church and monastery are accessible for the physically challenged who may use the elevator in the core of the main cantilevered staircase.

A Modern Church Used as a Multi-Purpose Center

While the monks of St. Procopius use their church also as an auditorium for formal events, the Benedictine community of St. Bede in Peru, Illinois, had it architect, Romaldo Giurgola of Mitchell-Giurgola Associates in Philadelphia, design a multi-purpose hall which they call the Worship Assembly Building. Begun in 1972, it was dedicated in October 1974. The main space is a square with its axis running diagonally through opposite corners. Tall light monitors shaped like triangular prisms jut upward from the centers on all four sides. A system of movable, soundproof partitions makes it possible to combine or to separate spaces in various configurations to accommodate groups from 60 to 600.

The sanctuary is located in the western arm, which can be closed off to function for daily Mass. While the circular altar contrasts the rectilinear geometry of the building, the altar and ambo are easily movable to relate to various situations. Adjoining the sanctuary is the Blessed Sacrament chapel. A skylighted corridor on three sides of the assembly hall provides circulation to the attached rooms such as the sacristy, a conference room, and a chapel for student liturgies. Above the sacristy on a level with the bridge leading to the monastery is the choir chapel, which is accessible also from an outdoor stairway in the rear courtyard. The monastic choir chapel is the only structure that rises above the height of the assembly hall.

Sisters Undertake a Major Building Project

The Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery in Lisle, Illinois, have embarked on a $70 million project with Benedictine Health Systems based in Duluth, Minnesota. After the Sisters merged their girls' academy with the boys academy in 1968 to form Benet Academy, they adapted half of the main building as an assisted living facility. Now they are converting 27 of their 47-acre property into housing for seniors.

The plan of the complex known as Villa St. Benedict indicates 56 independent living units of duplexes and quadplexes, which will be ready for occupancy this fall. Sixty units in a high rise now under construction will connect to the former academy and monastery building containing a large chapel, which will be renovated for use by the Sisters and by the retirement community. The Sisters will move into the former gymnasium after it is converted into three floors of private rooms. Eventually a full-needs facility, also for use by the Sisters, will be constructed. While Benedictine Health Systems will manage the operation, the Sisters will still own the property.

As we conclude this survey, we can say that flexibility is the common theme uniting these examples of churches and monasteries. Monastic architecture in the twenty-first century requires adaptability to various needs, most notably by communities diminishing in membership. Flexibility becomes less crucial in churches and chapels small in scale.


Dedicating my presentation to the late Frank Kacmarcik for his significant contribution in the development of sacred architecture in the United States, I recommend that you read his tributes by Kevin Seasoltz OSB and Francis Kline OCSO in the May 2004 issue of Worship and the tributes by Ed Sovik and Bob Rambusch in the spring 2004 issue of Faith and Form of the Interfaith Forum on Religious Art and Architecture. Frank entered the Benedictine novitiate at Saint John's in the early 1940s, left before making monastic profession, and was received in 1988 as a cloistered oblate at Saint John's. He died at Saint John's, and is buried in the abbey cemetery. He designed the headstones, including the one for his best friend, Michael Marx OSB. His collection of rare books, research volumes, original prints, and art objects remain at Saint John's in the Arca Artium. May Frank rest in peace.


Previous Page Table Of Contents Next Page