A Preliminary Vision for a New Church
By Father Andrew
I never really had a desire to build a church in Whistler but when the idea was presented to me by a few parishioners it piqued my interest. I was still unconvinced, however, until two more factors came into play. One was an architect with a passion for a church in Whistler and the other was a donor who was willing to put down some serious money to get the project rolling. The passion of the architect for the church was surprising and the concepts were inspiring.
We owe a deep debt of gratitude to those who built our current church which has served the community in a multi-purpose way. Is it time to finish the original project which included a church? The words that strike me are,“If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do the builders labour.” Every time I have felt discouraged to keep going regarding building a church, God has offered more consolation and direction. So, here is what has transpired in three short months: a conceptual plan, a major donor and some fascinating conversations with other parishes in our same situation that have built amazing churches. Of course, this will demand a real sacrifice for us in order to complete the project, if we discern God’s direction for us is to build the church.
What is the need to build a church, when our current one is not bursting at the seams? Would we just be building another monument that will fade, or as one person said, a golden calf? The story of the golden calf actually has to do with it. Israel did not know how to worship so they built a golden calf. In response to this, God gave them the tabernacle, a temple in the wilderness. He taught them worship and sacrifice. I feel that in many ways the Catholic Church in our country has been losing worshipers for the last sixty years. In the last sixty years, we have mostly built churches that failed to express our faith and the Church as an encounter with God. The loss of the sacred has led to many leaving and trying to find some authentic worship or some connection with the supernatural. It seems that a lot of ideas now are about the Church as a community and there are many misunderstandings: the loss of the understanding of sin and salvation, the lack of understanding of salvation, how does one go to Heaven, why does one need God, what God should you worship, and so on. In building this new church we have an opportunity to place God back in the centre of our lives. We would really be building a temple in the wilderness.
When I think of the word “Church” I think of three realities:
First – the people of God, known as the bride of Christ.
Second – the Church as a Magisterium or teaching authority.
Third – the building. It is the building that I want to focus on. For Catholics, the church building is Heaven. Why is it Heaven? It is Heaven for two reasons. The first is that Jesus is physically present there. Where Jesus is the Father is and so is the Holy Spirit, and where those three are present that is Heaven.
The second is the church as the building where Heaven and Earth are married. In the Liturgy, Heaven comes down to our altar and we are invited to take Heaven inside of us. The grace that is sufficient for our salvation, which means to go to Heaven, is given in this most wonderful space.
My vision for this new church is new and not new. It seems that many people take salvation for granted. I would say most people do not know how it happens and are likely making dangerous assumptions, such as, “I am good enough.” Our grandparents worked out their salvation in fear and trembling, and prayed, went to confession and made huge sacrifices to be faithful. They saw miracles from their prayers. My own family saw every member of the family return from World War One and Two, some thirty-three of them, from poor farming families. Faith and belief in God were their daily bread. The vision that I feel inspired to share is that our church should be a place that is a concert testimony of the path to Heaven and the pitfalls to avoid.
The Church is still this, yet in a newish way teaching us the sure pathway, the path that the Church has always taught to get us to Heaven. I see this as a testimony of our love of God. And hope. We can all participate with our sacrifices to build a glorious edifice that will help us on the path of Heaven and raise our minds to Heaven. We plan to build in such a way that generations will be able to add to the glory of the church and feel that they, too, have created a living testimony to God and the path of salvation through the church.
A further point would be by having a designated church, we could use our hall more frequently and as it was intended to be used. One idea is to open a Catholic day care and preschool. This would give us a connection to many young families and be a source of revenue as we move forward.
The Parish is seeking your feedback on this preliminary concept and we invite you to complete the survey below.