Church Architecture

Sunday at Seven

Please join us for an informative and spiritually uplifiting talk about how properly designed church architecture helps us pray and experience the grace of God.

Denis McNamara, PhD will speak at Holy Cross Church on Sunday, March 4th at 7 PM in the church. The subject of his talk will be "Shadow, Image and Reality: Church Architecture As Sacrament of Heaven." Denis will be working with our architect, James McCrery to ensure that our church expansion is architecturally, theologically and liturgically beautiful.

We will have a limited number of copies of Dr. McNamara's book, "How to Read A Church" on hand.

Bird's Eye Views of Holy Cross Building Plans

We've featured many of the exterior elevations of the new design for the Church on these blogs before, but not the newest floor plan which is below:


Several minor modifications have been made to this plan compared to those you might have seen at some of our meetings over the past several months.

The north transept was shortened slightly to allow for a wider driveway to the handicapped parking lot alongside the church. This required reconfiguration of the vestibule and elimination of one of the two upstairs bathrooms. No change in seating capacity resulted. The confessional on that side is retained.

An elevator was added for access to the basement meeting rooms and restrooms


Rumson Special Board Approves Holy Cross Church Renovation Plans


Let the joyful news go forth that Holy Cross Church's renovation/expansion plans have been unanimously approved (7-0) by the special board convened to hear the parish's application! This day has been anticipated and patiently worked toward by so many for nearly 7 years and is truly a testatment not only to their persistence but to the power of prayer. 

Some highlights of the new plan include:

the architecturally beautiful interior and exterior views by James McCrery already featured on both this blog and the construction blog.

preservation of our historic church's interior shell, its steeple and the present facade on Ward Avenue

continuity of the design and mood of our interior worship space with its past and present appearance

elimination of the parking lot behind the carriage house to make way for an entry garden and gathering plaza adjoining the south side of the church

a fountain / water feature in the outdoor gathering space and Marian prayer garden

preservation of the playground and parish playing field

restoration of the church's exterior appearance to its original cedar shingle and tile roof design

full handicapped accessible parking, entryways and rest rooms

several cry rooms for use by our most vocal and youthful worshippers

a basement meeting room for church groups and mourners after funeral masses if desired

fixed pew seating for nearly 650 parishioners facing East to the "rising of the Son"

cleaning and preservation of the Holy Cross "Discovery of the True Cross" stained glass window along with Sts. Alphonse Liguori and Anthony

installation of Sacred Heart and BVM windows from Holy Rosary Church

new choir loft and church organ

new altar, ambo (pulpit), lectern and baptismal font

specially comissioned reredos (wall painting behind the tabernacle and above the altar)

new Holy Rood cross

plans for renovation of the tool shed adjoining the Carriage House to service outdoor hospitality, heated walkways to the church to prevent snow and ice accumulation, geothermal powered cooling and heating and new shingles for the rectory to match the church will be studied and accomplished if finances permit.

Look for a public announcement of our "Time To Build" Captial Campaign in the next few weeks. The campaign has already been quietly underway as we make progress toward our goal of $4 million dollars. 

Projected ground breaking is October/November with an anticipated construction time of 18 months.




Denis McNamara, PhD at Holy Cross Rumson March 4th 2012

St_-Helena-WindowDenis McNamara, PhD will speak at Holy Cross Church on Sunday, March 4th at 7 PM in the church. The subject of his talk will be "Shadow, Image and Reality: Church Architecture As Sacrament of Heaven." Denis will be working with our architect, James McCrery to ensure that our church expansion is architecturally, theologically and liturgically beautiful.

He will visit all the masses on Sunday to meet our parishioners and experience worship in our present church. We are quite excited that Dr. McNamara will be helping us pray a new, even more beautiful church and look foward to his visit. There is no fee for attending his lecture presentation and members of the general public are also invited. Please mark your calendars and invite your friends.

He is currently Assistant Director and faculty member at the Liturgical Institute of the University of St. Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary, and serves as a liturgical design consultant. He is the author of two widely acclaimed books, "Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy," and "How to Read Churches: A Crash Course in Ecclesiastical Architecture." 

        " ... a church allows the earthly congregation to experience in sacramental form the deeply biblical notions of God's beauty and redemptive presence....By experiencing heaven on earth, the faithful become ever more accustomed to heaven and conformed to the image of God by worshipping in a church that "looks like" a church."



The Language of Form

For many years at Holy Cross, we have been praying about how a parish's prayer life and devotion to God can be expressed in the actual structure of the church building. We understand that "The Church" is not the beams and the foundation, but modern sentiments too easily dismiss the importance of the the church building in building up the People of God.

Watch a brief, but beautiful video presentation which includes our own architect, James McCrery speaking about the language of church architecture.


Busy Week !

  • Capture At a meeting of the Building and Planning Committee, Fr. Manning presented the plans approved by the diocese to the members before they are posted on this construction blog. He read the letter of approval from the Building Commission and outlined the next steps directed by the Diocese.
  • Our architect, James McCrery and his assistant are working on a color rendering of the interior of the approved design. The exterior designs and church footprint remain as submitted last year.
  • Fr. Manning has met with three different local attorneys with particular expertise in zoning and planning. After a weekend of prayer and further advice, we will select our legal counsel. As you may know, John Brogan who facilitated the approval of our additional 25 parking spaces alongside the gymatorium has retired from the private practice of law.
  • A number of parishioners have kindly agreed to serve on a small committee to interview and select one of four capital campaign companies recommended by the diocese to help us raise the remaning funds we need to complete construction. Roger Trendowski, our business manager, is coordinating interviews with representatives of these firms and their presentations to our selection committee.
  • A committee is being formed by our Music Director, Dan Palko, to research and recommend plans for a church organ in the reconfigured worship space. One consideration is to replace the instrument used now for music in the gym with a suitable instrument which can then be moved to the new choir loft. It might then be used for a transition period until such time as a new organ is purchased, or serve as a suitable replacement for the organ we have now. Of course, the logistics of removing, refurbishing and re-installing our present organ will be investigated along with its associated costs.

As always, please feel free and invited to come forward and offer whatever talents you have in service of the people of God at Holy Cross.

Be sure to check our Construction Blog periodically for updates and look for a visual presentation of the plans in the church vestibule coming soon.


Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia

Yes, those are the words we pray so fervently during Liturgy of the Hours and Mass during Easter and we have an added reason this week: after many months of our patient prayer and planning, the Diocese has approved the revised drawings of the Church Expansion project we re-submitted last week.

6a0120a4f88a1c970b0120a6ad1969970cView of Expanded Church from Gymatorium


Head on over to the Construction Blog for the new plans, which will be posted this week for review and comment. Most of the discussions about the timetable and plans for the project will be posted there.

Thank you everyone for prayers and support and to St. Joseph for his strength and guidance. We appreciate Bishop O'Connell's recent visit and his careful review of the plans and look forward to the day when he can give us the green light to break ground!


Sacred Architecture

The latest issue of Sacred Architecture, The Journal of the Institute for Sacred Architecture, Duncan Stroik, editor arrived on my desk today. There are some beautiful photos of newly constructed traditional church architecture and a scathing review of the new shrine church built to contain the remains of St. Padre Pio. An article entitled "Architectural Violence in Umbria" laments the landing of a huge, nearly solid cube of concrete in the beautiful Umbrian countryside.

The webpage ( of the journal is worth a visit.

Padre Pio's Shrine and Cross

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Award-Winning Umbrian Church by Fuksas Studios (photos courtesy of Architectural Review)

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