Before and After: St. Augustine's Cathedral in Kalamazoo, Michigan

St. Augustine's Cathedral in Kalamazoo, Michigan, working in collaboration with the architectural firm of Duncan Stroik, recently completed the first phase of a renovation of that cathedral with the re-consecration/dedication of the cathedral taking place this past Gaudete Sunday -- and it was certainly an apropos bit of symbolism as this would certainly have been a joyful occasion indeed, particularly in the light of how splendid a renovation it is.

By way of background, prior to its use as a cathedral St. Augustine's was built in 1951 to function as a parish church -- built by the offices of the famous American gothic revivalist, Ralph Adams Cram. When the Diocese of Kalamazoo was created twenty years later in 1971, St. Augustine's was then elevated to its present status as a cathedral. 


A renovation in 1989 altered the sanctuary and dismantled the original high altar, using pieces of its broccatello marble as a backdrop for the cathedra of the bishop, as well as for a pedestal for the tabernacle (which was moved to a side chapel). 


This brings us to the current renovations. 


The present renovation, initiated by Bishop Paul Bradley and Monsignor Michael Osborn (Vicar General of the Diocese), restored aspects of the historical ordering of the church/cathedral, including the restoration of some of the original pieces of the high altar as well as the historical side altars to Our Lady and St. Joseph.

In addition to these restorations, contemporary improvements were also made including the ever welcome addition of a ciborium magnun over the new altar, a new ambo in a traditional style, a new cathedra, an entirely new sanctuary floor and traditional wooden pews. New decorative patterns, consonant with the gothic tradition, were also added to the sanctuary walls and ceiling, bringing some welcome warmth, colour and added symbolism to the sanctuary (at the same time making the altar, ciborium, cathedra and ambo that much more distinctive and prominent). 

I would take a moment to note that, importantly, a predella is found beneath the altar -- an important architectural feature that is sometimes neglected

The new canopied ambo should not be neglected in your considerations as its form is quite pleasing and substantial -- yet while still harmonizing and not competing with the altar. 

In the second phase of the project, new statues of Ss. Peter and Paul will be installed in niches seen on either side of the ciborium, along with traditional confessionals, choir stalls and a shrine to St. Augustine.

For more information, please visit the website of Duncan Stroik Architect, or visit them on social media.  

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