Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Holy Name Roman Catholic Church

“We, the people of God in Holy Name Roman Catholic Church, are called by our Baptism to be a community of faith, empowered by the spirit of Jesus Christ. As members of the body of Christ, we commit ourselves to a lifelong ministry of evangelization and service.” (Msgr. Gaus)

The Catholic congregation in Ebensburg was founded around the year 1827. An old frame church was built across the street from where the present church is located. The date and architect of this church is unknown, but it is know that it was dedicated to St. Patrick. It is said that this building was erected by Judge Murray but was not regularly used for many years. An account of the congregation states that Rev. Patrick Rafferty was the first pastor.

The origin of the brick church that is used today was built during Father Christy’s incumbency around the year 1865. Through the congregation’s and the Father’s efforts, the church was built at a cost of $25,000, and the name “The Church of the Holy Name” was given at its dedication done by Bishop Domenic.

In 1910, Father O’Neil instigated the formation of the Holy Name School. This was the first Catholic School in Ebensburg. At this time, three nuns came to Ebensburg to teach in the new school. This school began with one classroom, but in 1953 four more rooms were added on and completed in 1954. Presently the Holy Name School has eight classrooms, a social room, a cafeteria, and the student body has grown from 87 to near 400 students.

The current structure was constructed by L. Robert Kimbell, and dedicated by Bishop James Hogan on February 25, 1968. Information received from Msgr. Gaus, the Pastor, gave insight on the architecture used. The church is a basilican/octagonal type plan, starting as rectangular and then rounding it. The church is mainly build of brick, although it took many curved metal girders, plaster, and glass. There is a steeple atop this church is apx. 100 feet high. The purpose for this is so a part of the church can be seen from many entrance directions coming into town, so everybody knew where the church was. The interior is free of visible means of support with the structure consisting of a compression ring at the center and a tension ring at the perimeter walls thus giving a clear dome like space. The apex of the steeple is directly over the altar, helping to make it the focal point.

As you are approaching Holy Name, the steeple is the first thing you notice. The top, and last 20 feet of the 100 foot, steeple is a cross. You can see this cross standing high over many homes and businesses in Ebensburg.

Entering the church is very welcoming. The outside is basically brick, with a large entrance of windows. It is also highlighted by the clerestory windows that lie below the soaring white roof that rises to its apex. These windows contain a rhythmic pattern of lines and colors, which creates an overall pleasing pattern on the exterior. When first entering the church, you first enter into the vestibule, which also contains windows of pattern of lines and color.

Within the church, the Altar of Sacrifice grasps your attention. The altars, pulpit, lectern, and baptismal font are mostly made of Botticino marble, all carved and polished in Italy. Suspended above the altar is a figure of the risen Christ. Four walnut blocks on aluminum crossbars suggest the cross. The figure itself is made of lindenwood, hand-carved in Italy. Holy Name can seat more than 900 people, but there is no seat closer than 75 feet from the Altar of Sacrifice.

On the vinyl-covered nave walls hang the Stations of the Cross. These were also hand-carved in Italy with gold leaf lines. These plaques are contemporary in design but have a realistically portray the scene. The walls are topped with Clerestory windows made of mouth-blown antique glass. These windows also contain a pattern of line and color, leading from the narthex up to the sanctuary. At the same time the brightening of colors lead from the sanctuary to the narthex indicating the brightness of God’s grace going out into the world from the Altar.

Besides the play of the clerestory windows, this church does not contain much ornamentation. It is very contemporary with the latest decree concerning the sacred liturgy and is artistically and aesthetically pleasing!

Throughout the year there are many festivities held at the Holy Name Church and School welcoming people from everywhere. I would highly suggest visiting this church to witness for yourself the pleasing beauty it holds. Attending any of the church’s festivals (usually one during each season) is a great opportunity not only to see the church but to interact with the community!

Name: Holy Name Church
Location: 500 North Julian Street, Ebensburg PA
Religious Affiliation: Roman Catholic
Date of Construction: 1965-1967
Architect: L.Robert Kimbell and Herman Pietrolungo
Building Style: Romanesque/Gothic/Contemporary
Plan Type: Octagonal
Primary Materials: Charcoal brick, plaster
Status: Active

Website of Holy Name Catholic Church
Rev. Msgr. Arnold L. Gaus, Pastor

Researched by Jessica Pelleschi

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