Liturgy Corner

Carmel Parish Bulletin articles from the Liturgy Committee

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Hear the Difference

Carmel Bulletin, 1 October 2017

Church Renovation 1The visual difference to our church since demolition work began is obvious, but have you noticed any aural (sound) difference?

The removal of the carpet has changed the acoustics of the building.  Soft furnishings, like carpet, absorb sound, while sound bounces off hard surfaces like brick, timber and stone.  The result is an increased resonance of sound throughout the church, which enlivens the output from the sound system, organ and musical instruments.

Good acoustics are also important so that we can hear each other.  Being able to hear those around us pray and sing gives us confidence and reminds us that the liturgy is a communal, rather than individual act.  If we can’t hear others, it feels like we’re cheering on our team at home in front of the TV, rather than at the stadium with thousands of other fans – there’s a big difference in terms of sound and experience.  Feeling like you’re the only person in the church singing is not very encouraging!

While our renewed church will have some carpet, there will be less of it.  Some spaces that were carpeted will be tiled instead.  This means the acoustic feel of the church will change again, but will not be as dull as what it was before.  We’ll need to wait and see what the difference will sound like.


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7/7/13 – Church Renewal Process: Looking Ahead

Church Renewal Process

You will have noticed that this column in Carmel has been different in recent months as I have been in Europe.  As anyone who has been there knows, it is impossible to travel through that part of the world without seeing churches.

European churches that are younger than ours are not easy to come by.  Many of them are remarkable structures that have been even more remarkably appointed.  As I reflected on the many liturgical spaces that I saw, I kept returning to three key ideas that are relevant to our own work in the Church Renewal Process, which I hope to write about further over the coming weeks:

  1. All churches undergo renewal over time
  2. We have a long heritage as a Church of using beauty as a means of lifting people’s hearts and minds to God
  3. It is important for us to express our particular identity as part of the Carmelite family.

This Tuesday, our architect Jesse Mowbray will present to Fr Paul and the rest of the Church Renewal Committee the three potential design concepts he has prepared for the renewal of the liturgical space.  In the weeks that follow, the committee will engage in a process of discernment to settle on a single design concept that it will commend to the Pastoral Council, Carmelite Provincial Council and Bishop Anthony.  The concept can then be presented as the proposed design once formal approval is received from Fr Denis (Prior Provincial) and Bishop Anthony.

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18/11/12 – Church Renewal Committee Report and Name Tags

Church Renewal Process

Church Renewal Committee Report

The Church Renewal Committee met this week with architect Jesse Mowbray.  Jesse outlined to the committee the terms of the Client and Architect Agreement and responded to questions.  The committee passed the motion that Fr Paul sign the agreement, which formally commissioned Jesse to develop three possible design concepts for the internal renewal of the church.  After completing exploratory work on the building, and spending time within the parish community during the rest of this year, Jesse will spend the first half of next year developing proposals of how the church can best be arranged to realise the vision articulated by parishioners through the consultation process.

Name TagName Tags

Following the recent formation workshops, Ministers of the Word and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion have been issued with name tags.  As time goes on, name tags will be provided to other ministers and parishioners who request them.

Your name tag, of course, is only useful if you wear it!  Fr Paul would like to see everybody who has a name tag wearing it so we can all get to know each other a little more, and at least be able to call people by name more often.  It’s a simple way of strengthening our relationships with each other and building up our parish community.  So please remember to bring your name tag with you to Mass.

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12/8/12 – Church Renewal Committee Report

Church Renewal ProcessThe Church Renewal Committee has met twice in recent weeks.

For the first of these meetings, we invited an architect to join us for an initial conversation.  The architect was recommended to us by Fr Stephen Hackett MSC, our liturgical consultant for the renewal process.  A very productive and fruitful discussion was had at this meeting.  The architect indicated that we already had much of the documentation and information in place that would be necessary for the development of design concepts.

The Church Renewal Committee met again this week to consider whether the architect should be appointed to the project.  The committee is confident that the architect would be able to develop an effective design that would reflect the vision and needs of our parish community into the future.

The committee is concerned, however, that more specific details may need to be developed to supplement the guiding concepts, thus making clearer the scope of work given to an architect.  The finance committee has been asked to determine the budget for the project.  This material will now be developed over future meetings before the architect is formally engaged.

Please remember that you can review the process that has been undertaken so far, and the Guiding Concepts, at  Feedback on the process can be sent to the committee via the parish office or by email to litcomwenty (at) gmail (dot) com.

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1/7/12 – Church Renewal Committee Report

Church Renewal ProcessThe Church Renewal Committee met on Wednesday to continue the planning process.

Given the amount of expenditure required, the finance committee has since sought further quotes for the painting of the interior of the church.  The three quotes now obtained vary significantly, and further examination is needed.  The finance committee also intends to make some inquiries regarding the cost of refinishing the timber floorboards.  The quotes being collected will assist the finance committee in determining what works can be funded from parish savings, and what would need to be funded from other sources, such as direct parishioner donation.

The Church Renewal Committee also considered the feedback it received from Fr Stephen Hackett, Liturgical Consultant for the process.  While some work has been done to try and envisage different ideas for the arrangement and general plan of the church, it is a challenge to try and develop a single idea which successfully balances the desires of our community as expressed in the Guiding Concepts.

As such, Fr Stephen recommended to the committee that an architect be consulted.  In seeking the advice of an architect, the committee sees the potential to draw upon specialised expertise and experience.  Through the architect drawing together the parish’s guiding concepts, liturgical requirements, existing ideas and practical needs, a more cohesive plan can be developed of how the church can be shaped to serve the parish into the future.

The Church Renewal Committee will now make contact with an architect recommended by Fr Stephen, and initiate a professional conversation to determining the feasibility and suitability of developing design concepts.

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10/6/12 – The Arrangement of the Church: Sanctuary

As we advised recently, the Church Renewal Committee is currently working through the planning process, considering how the church can be shaped and ordered to best fulfil the vision articulated by parishioners during the consultation process.  The Guiding Concepts developed from this consultation are, therefore, an important measure to work by.

Existing Sanctuary

3D sketch of the interior of the church showing the sanctuary in its present location and arrangement

Many parishioners during the consultation period have spoken about the placement and arrangement of the sanctuary.  This, in turn, obviously has implications for the placement and arrangement of the liturgical assembly that gathers before or around it.

The suggestions made for the placement of the sanctuary stem from a range of concerns, including visibility of the sanctuary from within the church and narthex as a focal point within the space, and providing an increased sense that we actively participate in, and not just observe the Eucharistic celebration.

As a result of our consultation, our Guiding Concepts state that:

The church needs to be arranged such that, as much as possible, the community is gathered around the altar and ambo, giving the sense that all of us gathered participate in the celebration of the Eucharist. 

While this can be very easy to achieve in a new building, it is a greater challenge when renovating an existing building such as ours, where a balance must also be found with our other hopes for the church, maintaining a reasonable seating capacity, and respecting the architectural integrity of the building which, for better or worse, has been built in a way that naturally sets its focal points along its north-south axis.

The Church Renewal Committee will continue to consider how the church can be best ordered to fulfil the vision articulated in the Guiding Concepts.  In the meantime, remember the look at the additional material provided at  Thank you also to those who have recently send in feedback about the process – it is always welcome, and can be given to Fr Paul, myself, the parish office, or emailed to

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20/5/12 – Church Renewal Committee Report

Church Renewal ProcessLast month, the Church Renewal Committee met again to continue the planning process.

A quote was tabled for the painting of the clerestory (upper level) of the church interior, as well as the refinishing of the ceiling, end walls of the church (sanctuary and choir gallery) and other selected elements such as the timber wall on the front of the choir gallery.  This has helped to give a clearer picture regarding the cost involved.  The matter will be taken up by the finance committee, who will provide further information to parishioners as required.

Further advice was sought on movement within the floor of the building, with a full report promised.  It was noted that while some movement occurred in the floor at one point, no further movement has occurred for several years, which is considered to be a positive sign.

The committee also began initial discussions about how the vision for the parish and its church, articulated in the Guiding Concepts, may be best expressed in the way the church is arranged and ordered.  There was an overwhelming desire to preserve as much of the church’s seating capacity as possible.  Also expressed was the need to respect the architectural form of the building which, for better or worse, suits itself to having its main focal points, such as the sanctuary, set along the longer north-south axis of the building.

An update on this discussion has since been provided to our liturgical consultant, Fr Stephen Hackett MSC, and he has already responded with feedback.  The committee will meet again in due course to consider Fr Stephen’s advice and continue our discussion around how the church can be best arranged and designed to support our parish community and the liturgy we celebrate.