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July 2013

Original Siding of Holy Cross

The workmen have exposed a portion of the original siding of Holy Cross Church. It looks to be in remarkable condition. I believe they will take the entire remaining building down to the same siding.

You may be familiar with the look of the "old" church from the ceramic tile image of the church in the gymatorium lobby. This image was taken from a color picture post card printed in the early 1900's. It shows the church in the more subdued earth colors of the original siding before the whitewashed shingles were installed much later.


Original Appearance of Holy Cross Church

Boards: Old and New

North Side of Nave


Saints Windows for Holy Cross

Happily many of the Saints windows being restored from St. Francis Church for Holy Cross have been subscribed. Generous donors have reserved: St. Patrick, St. Teresa, St. Francis, St. Laserian, St. Brigid, St. Ita, Blessed Virgin with Child. Lamb of Victory Rose Window


Still available for restoration and donation are:  (top row, left to right) St. Clare, St. Louis, St. Kieran, (bottom row, left to right) St. Colmcille, Sacred Heart, St. Elizabeth



Well, A Little Treasure


J Hirschfeld and Sons Glass Bottle
Most of the trash  underneath the crawl space of the church isn't too interesting, too well preserved or too easy to explain! But, yesterday we came upon a collectible beer bottle from the J. Hirschfeld & Sons in Long Branch. The bottle is apparently valued because of the unique horseshoe on the glass. They were originally stoppered with corks. There's a little dried residue of left over beer.


I can't find anything about the brewery itself; perhaps some more research about Long Branch will tell. The Long Branch newspapers aren't digitized as is the Red Bank Register, so searching is a more laborious task.

We won't rush to cash the bottle in ($14 on ebay)!






PS The Hirschfelds immigrated from Germany in 1893. Several settled in Long Branch beginning in the early 1900's, opening a hotel, cafe, liquor store and bottling company on Broadway ranging between 146 - 202 Broadway.

There was a New Jersey Bottle Law which made it mandatory for beverages to be placed in "registered" bottles by the bottling company only and Hirschfeld's name pops up in the police activity logs from time to time in the early 1900's because crooks were found with their bottles, or the bottles registered to others. One vandal given a $5 fine c. 1910.


As We Move Forward

Ingram_0067I've blogged before about the sadness with which we see the familiar silhouette of Holy Cross Church change, and those of us who worship at Holy Cross have already experienced its loss to our worship. It is my prayer and my faith, and the experience of others reassures me, that it will not be long before any sadness we feel over the dissembly of our church building is replaced with anticipation and joy for the birth of the new church which is even now beginning. As the old saying goes, nothing lasts which isn't difficult. 

I realize that not everyone is simply sad. There are some who are angry: some parishioners, former parishioners, non Catholic Rumson residents. Perhaps they opposed the project from the beginning, perhaps they resent the nearly miraculous and very circuitous route the project took to approval in its current form. Perhaps they voiced a suggestion which was simply not taken. This is surely not a time for gloating, but neither is it a time for anger, nor for rehashing the same arguments against the project, some of which are nearly 20 years old. Repeating illogical arguments or inaccurate facts over and over again does not make them true. Reasonable concerns have been addressed, unfounded fears grow with each retelling. It is time to move on.

Despite every attempt to disseminate news about the project, some are only now learning of it through third hand Facebook posts, Instagrams, etc. via the dramatic photos of the partly demolished church. Or perhaps by driving by and being surprised that anything is happening.

Please help spread accurate and complete information. Get some of our parish links up on your social network. Circulate our parish webpage, this blog site, the pdf of the 125th Year Parish Anniversary, the newest plans, our architect's website.  There may still be disagreement, but it should not be based on misconceptions, rumors, or outdated construction plans. Share the photos and share the hope!

Help shine the Light of Christ on the darkness of misinformation.


Fr Manning


Interesting News on the Rose Stained Glass Window


Lamb of Victory
The Lamb of Victory
Original, restored window from St. Francis


As you may recall, the stained glass studio did not forsee a way to remove the glass from the rose window at St. Francis and neither the cost of removal, nor the cost of acquiring the glass was included in our purchase agreement with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. 

Instead, Beyer Studio proposed to fabricate a new rose window, using the pattern and design of the St. Francis window. 

Meantime, a way has been discovered to remove the glass from St. Francis. It may be possible to acquire the additional glass, pay for its already accomplished removal, and have it incorporated into a modern frame for the same cost as a new window. 

Happily, we are able to accomplish this and one of the Rose Windows, will be the Restored "Lamb of Victory" from St. Francis.



Construction Plans for the Week 7/22

Works_014520This week the contractors will continue to remove debris from the already excavated parts of the site, tear up all the macadam parking surfaces, survey the site and begin installing the drainage system. 

Meantime clean-up will continue inside the church and eventually the exterior wooden shingles will be removed. I think we pretty much need to get down to the church's "bones."

 We seem about to get relief from the dry, hot weather, but tomorrow we hope to assess any damage to the sprinkler system, either from the construction itself, or the winter months. It would be good if we can manage to water the parking islands and part of the parish field when they require it. 



No Buried Treasure, But a Bit of Buried History: Two Little Devils Under Holy Cross Church

You've read on this blog and in the bulletin about the Tirrell Equalizing Gas Machine which was in the basement of the church. This turn of the 20th century invention converted liquid gasoline to gas which was then piped into the home for illumination, heating or cooking. There are a few ads for the mechanism for sale on ebay, but suprisingly enough, no one seemed to want the actual piece of equipment.

Today, there was just a tiny devil discovered under the church, actually two. A battered, empty container of "Hellite Refractory Cement" which was manufactured by Johns Manville for setting brick which would be exposed to high temperatures around furnaces, boilers, etc.  has two devils on its label.  The dried residue in the can does appear to be pink, just as the product literature from Johns Manville describes. They are the same Johns Manville company of asbestos fame, although there doesn't appear to be any asbestos listed on the manufacturing sheet, as was so proudly proclaimed for many of their products.


One of the Little Devils on the "Hellite" Can

Old JM Logo with hyphenated spelling and partially visible "Hellite"











Battered Can with Dried Pink Cement and Very Cool Wooden Handle


When I first looked at the can, I thought the logo might be the precursor to the Red Devil trademark, but that is an entirely different company which has never had an association with Johns Manville that I could find. Just the pink color and the "Hellite" name around fire conjured up the devil for this specific label. You never know what you might find.

Nothing else too exciting at this point, a little hoard of empty dog food cans (Cycle One - puppy, for those that remember that brand), a can of empty catfood, several broken bottles of sacramental wine and probably of more modern vintage, the ubiquitous Budweiser can or two. 

Still no buried treasure...


Stained Glass Windows

A Detail of the Sacred Heart Window

As you know, Holy Cross has been fortunate enough to acquire the beautiful stained glass windows previously in St. Francis of Assisi Church in Philadelphia. They have been removed from St. Francis and are in Beyer Studios, which is located only a short distance from St. Francis. They will be reconfigured to fit our window space (the original windows are too big!) and installed in Holy Cross when their new home is ready.

There are 14 saints, some still well known, other less so. In the new church an engraved plaque under the window will designate the donor from Holy Cross who dedicated the window. The liturgies at Holy Cross will commemorate the feast day of each of our “window saints” and we will mark the day in a special way we can discuss when the happy time to plan the details arrives.

Only a few more of the windows remain for subscription. Please consider donating one to Holy Cross; it would be great to be able to authorize the restoration of the complete set early on in the building process.

Thank you again to everyone. Let us continue to pray.

Fr Manning

Construction Project 7/16

More clean up today. Many dumpsters filled with all kinds of material were hauled away. The handicapped access ramp on the south side of the building was crunched and partly hauled away --- that was a lot of concrete!

Work crews began more carefully dissembling one of the remaining bays of the church until the portion being fully retained is exposed. It's amazing how similar this is to a dissection in the peeling away of layers and stripping away unwanted material. 

Slate shingles are being retained for later use as thank you to donors, perhaps with inscriptions and certificate of authenticity. We plan on saving some of the cedar shingles when they are removed from the church for the same purpose. 


Construction Pictures 7/15

Here's an unusual view from the front door of the church which  brings new meaning to the phrase "open air worship."

View from the spot where the priest stood for many entrance processions

View from choir loft. The old basement and crawl space is visible
View from the choir loft















The choir loft windows on Ward Avenue which need restoration

Pope Consecrates Vatican City State to Sts. Michael and Joseph

How heartening to see both Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict together in public at the consecration of the new monument to St. Michael the Archangel in the Vatican gardens.

Pope Francis spoke about St. Michael in the context of the modern world:

In the Vatican Gardens there are several works of art. But this, which has now been added, takes on particular importance, in its location as well as the meaning it expresses. In fact it is not just celebratory work but an invitation to reflection and prayer, that fits well into the Year of Faith. Michael—which means “Who is like God?”—is the champion of the primacy of God, of His transcendence and power. Michael struggles to restore divine justice and defends the People of God from his enemies, above all by the enemy par excellence, the devil. And St. Michael wins because in him, there is He God who acts. This sculpture reminds us then that evil is overcome, the accuser is unmasked, his head crushed, because salvation was accomplished once and for all in the blood of Christ. Though the devil always tries to disfigure the face of the Archangel and that of humanity, God is stronger, it is His victory and His salvation that is offered to all men. We are not alone on the journey or in the trials of life, we are accompanied and supported by the Angels of God, who offer, so to speak, their wings to help us overcome so many dangers, in order to fly high compared to those realities that can weigh down our lives or drag us down. In consecrating Vatican City State to St. Michael the Archangel, I ask him to defend us from the evil one and banish him.

We also consecrate Vatican City State in St. Joseph, guardian of Jesus, the guardian of the Holy Family. May his presence make us stronger and more courageous in making space for God in our lives to always defeat evil with good. We ask Him to protect, take care of us, so that a life of grace grows stronger in each of us every day.


Pope Francis blesses new statue of St. Michael the Archangel in the Vatican Gardens


Church Project Update

OK, so now that parishioners who attended the weekend massses have had a chance to see the progress made on the new construction firsthand, we'll post some interesting photos on the blog.

Despite how the church may look now, there was great care taken to saw through the church from top to bottom in order to preserve the structure which you see still standing. The first two photos show stages in this process from the photos I've already posted.

After the western section of the church was fully detached from the eastern section, removal could be handled more quickly.

Work has been completed on the primary demolition except for sorting the debris for potential recyclying value and removing the rest. The standing section of the church will be reinforced, some of its columns will be replaced with steel and essentially reconditioned in place. 

The space that will have been freed when the debris is removed will be excavated for basements and new foundations. The basement will run almost the full length of the exposed nave, and will also include space under the southern transept. As you know, the new nave will be longer, extending almost to where the temporary silt fence now stands. The basement space under the northern transept will not be built in order to contain costs. 

The lighting fixtures have been put aside and will be reused in the narthex gathering space. 

Looking from outside into the church toward Ward Avenue (a unique view to say the least) one can see the full set of windows which front Ward Avenue. The windows in the choir loft were typically obscured by the organ pipes, but now they can be seen to match the remaining windows on the Ward avenue facade.

By the way, their condition is worse than expected (i.e. broken and distorted panes of glass) and there is no budget item for their restoration at this time. Plans are simply to reglaze the exterior glass which now protects them from the outside elements. The windows will not be visible from the inside of the church as they will be in the sacristies, but will continue to be seen from Ward Avenue. If anyone is interested in helping to restore them, that would make a fitting memorial. Cost estimates would need to be obtained from our stained glass craftsman.


Slate shingles and roof removed from southern side of western section



Once the shingles were removed the roofing was cut and removed

The eastern section of the church stands proudly and looks like a charming chapel
The light fixtures are some of the many things retained from the church and will be used in the new narthex

This view of the exposed eastern section shows the previously hidden windows in the choir loft

All but the slate on the steeple itself will be removed. The steeple will be fully inspected and then reclad with new cedar siding.


As you may remember, the part of the church which now stands will be the new sacristies and sanctuary. The tabernacle itself will be almost directly below the steeple cross. The cross will be removed for reconditioning when we have equipment which can reach high enough to remove it.



Church Project Update

As of today, the construction manager tells me that the western half of the church has been detached from the eastern, intact portion.  Next, the western section will be dismantled piecemeal. Most of the roof on the western section and part of the chimney have already been removed.

Basement space and new foundations will be dug in the ground which is cleared in the western section, and buttressing and preservation work on the eastern section.

So far things have gone well and pretty quickly, it seems. Let us continue to pray.


 PS Update

As of 3 PM the entire western half of the church had been razed. Contractors will work tomorrow to remove the debris. It's a shocking sight to be able to see the choir loft and and front doors of the church from outside the church!



Holy Cross Church OPEN

We realize the construction fence surrounding the church can make it appear as though there no place left to worship at Holy Cross.

Most of you know, that is not the case, as there are two quite wonderful spaces: our chapel for daily mass and small gatherings and the gymatorium, specifically designed years ago to facilitate worship when the transition to our new church took place.

We've ordered a couple of new signs: one over the door of the gymatorium and one on the construction fence lining the entrance driveway on Ward Avenue to help guide visitors and parishioners to our masses. 

I considered "OPEN FOR GOD'S BUSINESS" but opted instead for more traditional wording; we also used the Holy Cross image from the crucifix over the main altar for the banners.


Construction Crew Heads Home Early Due to Lightning

CloudPlenty of lightning was in the neighborhood today even though the period of showers was brief, so the construction crew called it an early day. The attic of the church with the tallest metallic structure within miles is no place to be when there's an electrical storm.

Everything we wish to retain has been taken out of the building. The western half of the church (we are removing) has been separated from the eastern half of the church (we are retaining) and will be demolished so that basements and new foundations can be dug for the new part of the structure.

An impressive hydraulic claw which pulls up trees like a gardener pulls weeds, unfortunately had to clear out a few trees blocking the footprint of the new building. Sad to see them go, but many more will be planted. To me the property seems smaller without them. We will still be rescuing perrennials and shrubs until the last minute, and the power equipment will actually make removing some of them for transplant much easier than digging by hand.

Does anyone remember Lady Bird Johnson's program to beautify America's highways? "Plant a tree, a shrub or a bush."