Templates for New Ecclesiastical Architecture: St. Anthony's in South Huntington

It was almost a decade ago that I first made note of the, then, newly constructed chapel of St. Anthony's High School in South Huntington, New York.  Given how much time has passed since then, and given that we have an entirely new generation of readers within that timeframe, I felt it would be beneficial to show it once again, particularly since I believe it a good model for what is possible in contemporary ecclesiastical architecture, picking up on some of the best motives of the 20th century Liturgical Movement -- where quality and craftsmanship in the liturgical arts are concerned -- as well as the tradition of the Church.  It is a chapel which can be described as manifesting noble beauty, noble simplicity and Romanitas. It is well suited to the spirit of the Roman liturgy.

The overall architectural vision and direction for the chapel was set by Br. Gary Cregan, OSF, who was inspired by the Fuentiduena Chapel, which now forms a part of the Cloisters Museum in New York City.  A particularly remarkable and noteworthy aspect is the apse painting which not only brings an immense visual impact, but which is also remarkable for the fact that it was designed and executed by an art teacher of the school, Jennifer Baldwin-Schafer, and approximately seventy of her own art students.

Here are some further views at the chapel which includes a wonderful basilica style ceiling and natural stone walls.

The design on the front of the altar comes from the 16th century, having been purchased from a closed church in Viterbo, just outside of Rome. The tabernacle design, seen behind, was crafted specially for this chapel and is modelled after the Portiuncula in Assisi.

The cross, which is suspended at the point at which the nave meets the sanctuary, is modelled after the San Damiano crucifix. This cross was carved by the Demetz, a family of craftsmen from the Tyrolean region of Italy.

Finally we turn our attention to the splendid fresco in the apse.

This design has a strength and depth of colour which is quite impressive and it works well in relation to the tones and hues of the stone and wood found throughout the chapel. The fresco depicts the Mother of God holding the Christ Child, surrounded by St. Padre Pio, St. Clare, St. Francis, St. Anthony, St. Bonaventure and St. Elizabeth of Hungary. One will also note the young men and women in formal, modern dress which further surround these figures; these represent the students of St. Anthony's, dressed in the uniform of the school.

Even after so many years, this remains one of my favourite examples of new Catholic architecture. My only hope is that in the intervening years since the altar candlesticks and an altar cross might have taken up their traditional configuration upon the altar, and the sedalia of the priest likewise its traditional orientation toward it -- thereby helping to emphasize the centrality of altar and sacrifice to all.

Join in the conversation on our Facebook page.